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Erdogan Begins Uzbek Visit To Revive 'Lost Opportunities'

Erdogan (right) with Mirziyoev in Tashkent

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kicked off an official three-day visit to Uzbekistan where he hopes to strengthen relations and business dealings between the two countries.

Erdogan arrived to Tashkent late on April 29 and is expected to attend an Uzbek-Turkish economic forum with more than 200 high-level government officials and representatives from major Turkish companies.

Before leaving for Tashkent, Erdogan told reporters at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul that he hopes that Turkey and Uzbekistan could revive "lost opportunities."

The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has said that ways to increase the level of bilateral ties and regional issues will be discussed during Erdogan’s visit.

Erdogan is expected to speak at a session of the Uzbek parliament and visit the ancient city of Bukhara on May 1.

Turkey was the first country to officially recognize the independence of the five Central Asian states after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but relations between Uzbekistan and Turkey have been tense for years.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev’s predecessor, Islam Karimov, the long-ruling Uzbek president who died in 2016, halted visa-free travel between the two countries and curtailed ties with Ankara in the mid-1990s after Turkey refused to extradite Uzbek opposition leaders Muhammad Solih and Abdurahmon Polat.

Mirziyoev's visit to Turkey in October last year was the first by an Uzbek president to Turkey since Karimov's visit in 1999.

With reporting by Yeni Safak