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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may be expanded to Afghanistan

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KABUL (TCA) — China has reportedly looked into the possibility of expanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to war-ravaged Afghanistan, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

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Afghanistan: Former US envoys warn hasty troop pullout could trigger 'total civil war'

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KABUL (TCA) — Nine former U.S. ambassadors have warned that Afghanistan could collapse in a "total civil war" if the United States withdraws its forces before a "real" peace deal involving the Kabul government is reached with the Taliban, RFE/RL reported.

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Kazakhstan: Hundreds hold anti-Chinese rally in Zhanaozen for second day

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Hundreds of protesters rallied in Kazakhstan’s volatile southwestern town of Zhanaozen for the second day on September 3 demanding President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev cancel his upcoming visit to China, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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Uzbekistan: Government to subsidize purchase of solar power devices by citizens

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TASHKENT (TCA) — The government in Uzbekistan will compensate for nearly a third of the purchase price of solar panels if citizens decide to use solar power to generate electricity and heat water, Xinhua news agency reported citing an Uzbek energy official.

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Kazakhstan increasing grain exports to Turkey, Georgia, Italy, Spain

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — This year it is planned to harvest 19 million tons of grain in Kazakhstan, the Minister of Agriculture Saparkhan Omarov said at a press conference in the Government of Kazakhstan on September 3.

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Kazakhstan: Protesters demand president cancel visit to China

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Demonstrators in Kazakhstan's volatile southwestern town of Zhanaozen have demanded President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev cancel his upcoming visit to China, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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Afghanistan: US, Taliban reach agreement 'in principle'

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KABUL (TCA) — The Taliban has agreed "in principle" that any Afghan territory it controls in the future will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States and its allies, U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad told RFE/RL.

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Kazakhstan president pledges more democratic freedoms in first state of nation address

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev on September 2 delivered a State of the Nation Address at the joint session of both chambers of the Kazakh Parliament and presented his vision for the further development of Kazakhstan.

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EU and UNESCO support protection of World Heritage sites in Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (TCA) — On September 3-6 in Bishkek a training on the development and revision of Management Plans for the sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage and Tentative Lists in Kyrgyzstan will be held in the framework of the European Union funded project "Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran – International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage".

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Kyrgyzstan is the second most integrated EEU economy after Belarus

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Despite a decline in the significance and intensity of Kyrgyzstan’s mutual trade with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) countries in 2018, these indicators remain high due to the country being the second most integrated EEU economy after Belarus, according to the report titled Main Trends in the Kyrgyz Republic’s Integration Development in 2018, prepared by the Centre for Integration Studies at the Eurasian Development Bank’s (EDB) Directorate for Research.

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EEU largest online retailer to open trade and logistics centers in Kazakhstan

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — During his working visit to Kazan (Tatarstan, Russia) last month, Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin met with Tatyana Bakalchuk, general director of the leading Russian international online store Wildberries. They discussed prospects for cooperation between the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) and Wildberries on the development of electronic commerce in Kazakhstan, the press service of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

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Weekly Digest of Central Asia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Publisher’s note: Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Central Asia was the scene of intense geopolitical struggle and the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires, and later between the Soviet Union and the West, over Afghanistan and neighboring territories. Into the 21st century, Central Asia has become the area of a renewed geopolitical interest, dubbed the New Great Game, largely based on the region’s hydrocarbon and mineral wealth. On top of that, the region now is perhaps the most important node in the implementation of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative through which Beijing aims to get direct access to Western markets. Every week thousands of news appears in the world’s printed and online media and many of them may escape the attention of busy readers. At The Times of Central Asia, we strongly believe that more information can better contribute to peaceful development and better knowledge of this unique region. So we are presenting this Weekly Digest which compiles what other media have reported on Central Asia over the past week.


Want to Explore Central Asia? Kazakhstan Should be the First Place on Your List

A glance at some places foreign tourists must see in Kazakhstan

Aug 28 — “Getting tourist visa for Kazakhstan is easy as you can have it for just Rs 4400 from the embassy, that too within 5 days of application. Last year, the Kazakhstan embassy issued more than 25,000 visas for Indians. To simplify the process, the embassy has also introduced the E-Visa. For transit visa you need to have return flight ticket usable within 72 Hours. If you want to travel only Kazakhstan then you must have the tourist visa.” READ MORE:

A Windswept Plain, a Sea of Oil and a Mountain of Money

A Chevron-led joint venture among several energy companies is spending billions of dollars in Kazakhstan to expand an oil field remarkable for its longevity, promise and risk

Aug 29 — “In a windswept land of salt flats and wild horses, investors are pouring money into one of the largest and most lucrative oil fields outside the Middle East. Oil has been pumped from this remote plain since the early 1990s at a pace that would have depleted other fields by now. Yet it is still gushing, and there is much more to come.” READ MORE:

‘Ground Zero’: Report from the former Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan

Every year on August 29, at the initiative of Kazakhstan, the UN and its Member States mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests. This year, the Day coincides with the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan

Aug 29 — “Moscow-400, Semipalatinsk-21, End of the Line, Kurchatov City. All these are the names for a top-secret city built on the banks of the Irtysh River in the north-east of Kazakhstan after the Second World War. Living there were Soviet scientists and members of the military whose job it was to conduct nuclear tests. To get inside Kurchatov City, which in the late 1940’s was surrounded by checkpoints, friends and family members of the city’s inhabitants would wait for months for permission. Getting outside the city, named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov, wasn’t so easy either.” READ MORE:

The reforms Kazakhstan needs

The Kazakh currency, the tenge, lost nearly half its value against the US dollar, real incomes dropped to pre-oil-boom levels, and unemployment skyrocketed, especially among the young

Aug 30 — “Kazakhstan’s former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in March after nearly 30 years in power, was a great admirer of the Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew. For Nazarbayev, Lee’s leadership showed the importance of strengthening the economy before liberalising politics. But the flaws in that approach are now on stark display.” READ MORE:


Kyrgyzstan Attempts to Isolate Local Islam

Kyrgyz authorities profess a separation of state and religion while also paradoxically preferring one version of Islam

Aug 28 — “After Kyrgyzstan obtained independence, the country experienced a religious revival which included the entry of many religious denominations into the country. Among them were various Christian as well as Islamic sects. The new Islamic groups in many ways differed from the practices of local or so-called “traditional Islam.” As a result, a new religious diversity emerged in the landlocked mountainous country alongside an ethnic diversity which remained from the Soviet era.” READ MORE:

Kyrgyzstan: Risk of a third revolution?

The feud between Atambayev and Jeenbekov has shown that Kyrgyzstan is far from becoming a “democratic island” in Central Asia

Aug 29 — “Notwithstanding the recent violent unrest in Kyrgyzstan, Atambayev’s saga is unlikely to lead to a violent overthrow of the government, which occurred in the country in 2005 and 2010. A political turmoil has shaken Kyrgyzstan. After hours of tense confrontations between protesters and police, former President Almazbek Atambayev was detained on 8 August. The arrest of Atambayev is the latest development of a six-week standoff, which started when current President Sooronbay Jeenbekov lifted his immunity from prosecution last June.” READ MORE:

Kyrgyzstan's revolving doors of justice and politics

In the changing political landscape in Kyrgyzstan, and with the future parliamentary election in sight, the role of the parliament is likely to remain weak as that of the president is likely to grow

Aug 30 — “One quarter-turn of the kaleidoscope that is Kyrgyzstan’s political scene and everything changes. Some politicians are coming out of prison. Others are going in. And then there are elections looming on the horizon. On August 29, the Pervomaisk district court in Bishkek approved a petition to release Omurbek Tekebayev and Duishonkul Chotonov from prison pending a review of their case.” READ MORE:


China increases its presence in Russia’s former Central Asian backyard

A recent joint exercise in Tajikistan is the latest example of Beijing’s growing security and economic interests in the former Soviet republic

Aug 25 — “China is increasing its military and economic presence in parts of central Asia that Russia has traditionally considered its sphere of influence – a development some analysts believe could cause concern in Moscow. While Russia’s influence remains strong in many former Soviet republics, China is steadily building up its military and economic influence in Tajikistan, particularly in the remote, mountainous areas on its western borders where central government authority is weak.” READ MORE:

Tajikistan Inaugurates its First Radiotherapy Centre in its Northern Province with IAEA Support

The provision of the new radiotherapy equipment for the Sughd Centre is the latest in a series of advances made by the Government of Tajikistan with the support of the IAEA

Aug 27 — “Each year, approximately 3000 cancer patients in Tajikistan require radiotherapy as part of their treatment. Until last week, patients living in the Sughd region, Tajikistan’s northernmost province, would have to travel across 300 kilometres of mountainous roads to reach the country’s only operational radiotherapy clinic, located in the national capital, Dushanbe. On 18 August, this gap separating cancer patients from the care they require was finally closed when a new radiotherapy facility was officially inaugurated in Khujand, the capital of Sughd province.” READ MORE:

Tajikistan: Presidential awards show preferences among ruling family

The president’s son-in-law mainly known for ruthless business practices has been given a high state award

Aug 30 — “The president of Tajikistan bestowed one of the nation’s highest honors on one of his sons-in-law, but the authorities seem eager for the fact not to be publicized too widely. As RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi reported, President Emomali Rahmon on August 29 handed out awards to people found to have made a special contribution to the fields of science and culture, as well as to distinguished law enforcement officers.” READ MORE:


Turkmenistan: Tiger, tiger, burning dimly

In its ‘Akhal-Teke: A Turkmenistan Bulletin’, Eurasianet reviews the main news and events in the Central Asian country for the previous week

Aug 27 — “The practice of requiring parents enrolling first-graders and aspiring college students to provide a detailed tabulation of family members going back three generations dates to the days of Turkmenistan’s late president Saparmurat Niyazov. As the Chronicles of Turkmenistan has reported this week, ever more people are being made to provide this potted familial history.” READ MORE:

The Hajj for a bribe

A bribe of about $556 needs to be paid to those who make the list of pilgrims in order to secure a place on the list for those travelling at government expense

Aug 28 — “On 25 August the pilgrims who had performed Hajj to Mecca and Medina as part of the government quota returned to Turkmenistan. Correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” found out that those making the pilgrimage have their expenses covered. Moreover, a significant part of the money allocated by the government is left after the trip.” READ MORE:

Turkmenistan Turns To Singapore For Economic Development

Before his trip to Singapore, President Berdimuhamedow approved an agreement signed with Singapore’s GP Global Equipment Pte. Ltd to design and construct a gas compressor station in Turkmenistan

Aug 29 — “In a region where hydrocarbon exports dominate national economies, the central government of Turkmenistan is making a concerted effort to develop the Caspian country’s non-oil sector and partnering with Singapore to make it happen. “Singapore could be a stepping stone for Turkmenistan on its way to the Southeast Asian market, which offers great opportunities for business communities,” Koh Poh Koon, Singapore’s senior minister of state at the Ministry of Trade and Industry said during a meeting in Singapore on Monday with Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, according to reports by state-run Turkmenistan Today.” READ MORE:


Uzbekistan Experiences The Pitfalls Of Peacemaking In Afghanistan

Kabul might view the recent visit by the Taliban delegation to Uzbekistan as the Uzbek government’s attempt to bolster its own security by warming ties with the Taliban

Aug 24 — “Fostering peace is a complicated process, and Uzbekistan just received a strong hint that best intentions can be interpreted as unwanted actions. Tashkent is trying to help promote peace in Afghanistan. Other parties are too, but the outcome of events in Afghanistan has a direct bearing on Uzbekistan, which shares an approximately 160-kilometer border with Afghanistan. Uzbekistan hosted a regional security and development conference in November 2017 that focused heavily on Afghanistan, and a conference specifically on Afghanistan in March 2018.” READ MORE:

Can Uzbekistan's new leader reform the country?

If the Uzbek president wants genuine reform of religious freedoms in the country, he faces a steep uphill battle

Aug 27 — “In recent years, Uzbek President Shevkat Mirziyoyev has made headlines for shifting the country’s foreign policy and introducing several social and economic reforms, ending 27 years of closed rule by Islam Karimov. Branding himself a “reformer”, Mirziyoyev visited every Central Asian capital in the first year of his presidency, settled a decades-old border dispute with neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and continued his multi-pronged policy, in which Tashkent adopted a non-committal adaptive foreign policy and tried to balance relations with the US, Russia and China.” READ MORE:

Shuttering Notorious Jaslyk Prison A Victory for Human Rights in Uzbekistan

Human Rights Watch helped to keep international attention on Uzbekistan’s ‘house of torture’

Aug 27 — “In early August, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced that the notorious Jaslyk prison would be closed. Jaslyk’s planned closure offers hope that Uzbekistan is on the path to making serious improvements in its terrible record on human rights. Since it opened in 1999, Jaslyk stood as a symbol of Uzbekistan’s terrible human rights record, a “house of torture” for thousands of religious prisoners, government critics, and others. Some inmates never made it out alive.” READ MORE:


Inside Afghanistan: Record Numbers Struggle to Afford Basics

57% of Afghans report having struggled to afford food in the past year

Aug 26 — “Afghans not only are facing challenges in regard to their safety and security as the country's presidential election nears, but they also are struggling more than ever to afford the basics such as food and shelter. Gallup surveys in Afghanistan over the past decade highlight the great need for action from incoming leadership.” READ MORE:

In Afghanistan and Kashmir, It’s the 1980s All Over Again

Decades of violence and terrorism were set in motion back then. Here’s how to avoid that from happening this time around

Aug 29 — “While a superpower negotiates an exit from Afghanistan, India stirs up a hornet’s nest in Kashmir. It is the 1980s, and the world is at an inflection point that led to a major insurgency in Kashmir, the Afghan civil war, the rise of the Taliban, and the attacks of 9/11. Again today, the world is facing no less an important transition period as the United States is set to conclude a preliminary peace agreement with the Taliban and India’s Hindu nationalist government continues its communications and media blackout in Kashmir after having revoked the region’s nominal autonomy this month.” READ MORE:

I Served 10 Tours in Afghanistan. It’s Time for Us to Leave

To win, we would need a comprehensive new strategic approach, and I do not see that as likely to happen. The only alternative left is to leave, says Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc (Ret), a former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa and a fellow at the American College of National Security Leaders

Aug 30 — “On the evening of July 15, 1979, a solemn and weary President Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office and addressed the nation about what he termed a “fundamental threat to American democracy.” Known historically as the “crisis of confidence” speech, President Carter used his prime-time slot to empathize about a general malaise hovering over the country. It was a particularly perilous period for America, whose economy was trapped by high Inflation and energy shortages and whose political elite was distrusted by the very citizens they were supposed to represent.” READ MORE:


'Central Asia has always been important for Europe'

The influence of political heavyweights China and Russia in Central Asia grows. Peter Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, on Europe's role in the region

Aug 27 — “Our new Strategy will aim to focus future EU action in the region on two key priorities. Firstly, we want to be partners for resilience. We want to strengthen the capacity of Central Asian states and societies to overcome internal and external shocks and enhance their ability to embrace reform. This should translate into closer cooperation on human rights and the rule of law. This will also imply closer cooperation in security, including counter-radicalisation and counterterrorism, but also new areas such as hybrid threats and cyber-security. We also want to cooperate with the countries of the region to turn environmental challenges into opportunities.” READ MORE:

Central Asia’s Koreans in Korea: There and (Mostly) Back Again

Central Asia's Korean population is looking to South Korea for fast money, but not for long-term living

Aug 28 — “Fearing Japanese espionage in the Soviet Far East, in 1937 Stalin deported some 170,000 Koreans from these border areas to uninhabited regions in northern Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan. These Koreans had originally settled in Primorye after fleeing famine on the Korea peninsula in the 1860s. Today, the number of Koreans living outside the peninsula counts up to seven million people, and more than 300,000 live in Central Asia as a result of this massive deportation.” READ MORE:

In rural Kyrgyzstan, Coding Caravan encourages girls’ leadership and entrepreneurship

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BISHKEK (TCA) — In rural Kyrgyzstan, the first ever Technovation Coding Caravan for girls has taught more than 600 girls the basics of computer programming. Launched in Talas Province, the caravan also reached Issyk-Kul, Naryn, Jalal-Abad, Batken, and Osh provinces.

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Kazakhstan: Activists march for democratic changes as police stay on sidelines

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — Dozens of activists of Kazakhstan's Oyan, Qazaqstan (Wake Up, Kazakhstan) movement marched in the Central Asian country's largest city, Almaty, on August 30 demanding democratic reforms, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

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World Bank says funds used in line with objectives of its Xinjiang vocational education project

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The World Bank said in a statement on August 29 that there is no indication that World Bank resources made available to schools supported by the Bank’s Technical and Vocational Education Project in China’s Xinjiang were used for any other purposes than those agreed to under the project.

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Kyrgyzstan: Arrest warrant issued for son of former deputy minister who detained Atambayev

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Authorities in Kyrgyzstan on August 29 issued an arrest warrant for a son of former Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov, who personally negotiated former President Almazbek Atambayev's surrender after a deadly two-day standoff earlier in August, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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Kazakhstan hosts Nazarbayev Prize for Nuclear Weapon Free World and Global Security ceremony

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The capital of Kazakhstan on August 29 hosted the Nazarbayev Prize for a World Without Nuclear Weapons and Global Security award ceremony. The Prize laureates were Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission, and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry reported.

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Trump says US to retain military presence in Afghanistan

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KABUL (TCA) — President Donald Trump says the United States will continue to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan even after a peace deal with the Taliban is reached, RFE/RL reported.

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Kyrgyzstan: Jailed opposition politicians Tekebaev, Chotonov transferred to house arrest

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BISHKEK (TCA) — A court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek has transferred two jailed opposition politicians, Omurbek Tekebaev and Duishonkul Chotonov, to house arrest.

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President of Belarus to visit Kazakhstan in October to boost cooperation

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko plans to visit Kazakhstan in the near future. The Belarusian leader said this as he met with outgoing Kazakhstan's Ambassador to Belarus Ermukhamet Ertysbayev on August 28 in Minsk, BelTA news agency reported.

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OSCE and Tajikistan outline priorities for cooperation in 2020

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Government of Tajikistan and civil society representatives met last week to discuss their joint activities for 2020, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe said on August 28.

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Kazakhstan hosts event to foster cooperation among nuclear-weapon-free zones

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NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) on August 28 co-organized an international Seminar on Fostering Cooperation Among Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) with participation of representatives of all Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, experts from relevant international and regional organizations as well as a number of observer-states, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry reported.

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Uzbekistan: Tashkent police reject claims of forcing men with beards to shave

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TASHKENT (TCA) — City police in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent are rejecting claims that dozens of men with beards were detained and forced to shave because they were practicing Muslims, saying the men were held during a raid to find suspects selling stolen mobile phones, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.

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Kyrgyzstan: Former deputy interior minister who detained Atambayev placed under house arrest

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Former Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov, who personally negotiated former President Almazbek Atambayev's surrender after a deadly two-day standoff earlier in August, has been placed under house arrest, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

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Tajikistan: Imports exceed exports threefold

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — The largest importers of Tajikistan goods are Turkey, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan, Avesta news agency reported.

According to the Tajik Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Turkey accounts for 21.4 percent of Tajikistan’s total exports.

Switzerland accounts for 19.4 percent of the total export.

These two countries mainly import Tajik primary aluminum, gold, and cotton fiber.

In January-July 2019, Tajikistan’s trade with Turkey amounted to US $220.3 million, including $137 million worth of goods exported from Tajikistan.

During this period, Tajikistan’s trade with Switzerland amounted to $131.4 million, including $124.6 million worth of goods exported from Tajikistan.

However, Russia remains the largest trading partner of Tajikistan, with Tajik-Russian trade totaling $570 million in January-July.

Tajikistan’s main export items are primary aluminum, cotton fiber, gold and silver, and dried fruits.

During this period, Tajikistan mainly imported from Russia (29.6 percent of the total imports), Kazakhstan (21.9 percent), and China (17.2 percent).

In January-July, Tajikistan’s exports amounted to $641.5 million and imports exceeded $1.8 billion.



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