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Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Uzbekistan on a routine visit October 21
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Uzbekistan on a routine visit October 21 to discuss regional integration, the political situation in the region, the fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking, and measures to enhance global strategic stability and disarmament. "Special attention will be paid to the military and political situation in Central Asia and joint efforts against international terrorism, extremism, and drug-trafficking," official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Kamynin said Wednesday. He added that cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was essential to face these challenges. Regarding disarmament issues, the spokesman said emphasis would be placed on establishing a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia as soon as possible. The minister's visit will follow his talks with the president of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat October 20-21 on issues of bilateral relations, and regional and global problems, primarily defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea, a protracted process. On October 10, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice embarked on a trip to Central Asia, visiting Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan - a move to show U.S. support for those willing to bring about political and economic reform and build up democracy. Rice also discussed issues of regional security with the countries' leaders. In particular, Rice confirmed later that the U.S. was not planning to deploy new bases in Central Asia, except one in Manas (Kyrgyzstan), which she said had been designed to support anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. In September, Turkmenistan denied reports from Russian media sources that the country was willing to offer its airfield in the city of Mary for a U.S. military base, saying that Turkmenistan continued to honor its neutrality and fully observe its international commitments.
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