Islam Karimov:. I am very happy to see you. I would like to congratulate you on your successful visit to China. It was a necessary and very effective trip.
I asked to meet you before we begin our meeting of heads of member countries of the Central Asian Cooperation organisation, to discuss the most fundamental issues. I think that our meeting before tomorrow’s conference is very important. As you are one of the main initiators of Russia’s participation in this organisation, I would like to consult with you on several issues which will be discussed tomorrow, on issues connected to the activity of this organisation.
You have become a regular presence in our region, and your visit to the region where we live have already ceased to be anything unusual. These visits are planned far ahead in advance. Very important issues are solved during your visits.
I would like to stress that Russia has always had interests in this region, and continues to do this. And it is very good that Russia has begun to take an increasing interest in solving the most urgent issues. We see your latest visit as a sign that Russia maintains its interest in our region.
President Vladimir Putin: Thank you. I would like to see that this is not just a bilateral meeting, and I expect that soon we will be able to make important decisions on the economy, above all on energy. I know that our specialists are preparing serious proposals in this sphere. And if we are able to reach agreements soon, then perhaps I will be able to see you in Moscow before the end of the year. Furthermore, there are also regional problems. And finally, I would like to consult with you on the problem of Afghanistan. We know what is going on there. And you, in Uzbekistan, have a good grasp of this situation. This is very important for us.
Mr. Karimov: I would like to stress that after the collapse of the USSR, Russia did not fully realise its rule here. This happened in the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And perhaps it did not use the right levers or mechanisms to show its importance in this region. And what you just said now, that energy is one of the key tasks, where this bridge, this firm link between the regions of Central Asia, Kazakhstan and Russia, I think that this is a very well-thought out approach. Because one must move from declarations to concrete, well-considered actions. Our country’s economy can already feel the presence of Russia: Russian investment has already started here, there are major Russian firms and companies – particularly in the field of energy. And this, I believe is the most correct path to achieve a goal that matches Russia’s interests and our interests.
Mr. Putin: It is very pleasing that I have such an ally.