Answers to journalists’ questions following visit to Uzbekistan 2012-06-04 23:45:00 Tashkent Question: Mr Putin, how were the talks? Vladimir Putin: They were good, constructive. I want to say directly, and you know it, that Uzbekistan is one of the key nations in the region, and we have a great deal of cooperation. Not all problems are easy to solve, but during today’s visit, today’s talks, we were able to cover the full spectrum of our relations. We discussed economic cooperation, including concrete projects. A few of our companies work here quite actively, and we have major investment plans: LUKOIL alone, I believe, has investment plans worth $5.5 billion to implement over the next seven years, and other companies are ready to work more actively than they have been so far. We are purchasing large quantities of resources from Uzbekistan, including gas. Overall, we wanted to expand economic cooperation to the manufacturing sector. We have certain preliminary ideas, but it is too early to talk about them; however, we do have good prospects. I am referring to Uzbekistan’s potential. You know that we are cooperating within many international organisations, including regional ones. And naturally, our cooperation with Uzbekistan is very significant, particularly in relation to the upcoming withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. This directly concerns the security of the Russian Federation itself. Cooperation with our Uzbekistani partners is extremely important for us. We discussed everything today. We not only talked, as you know, but also signed two documents, which confirm the strategic nature of our relations. We agreed that Uzbekistan will join the CIS free trade zone which, in my view, is a very good sign that more and more participants in economic activity, more and more states within the framework of the CIS, are interested in the integration processes. Overall, I want to say that I am pleased with the results. We agreed to continue our contacts both in Russia and here, in Uzbekistan. Question: Will Uzbekistan join the Customs Union? Vladimir Putin: For now, we are talking about entering the CIS free trade zone. As for other possible alliances, they will be discussed during future talks. Question: Could you talk about cooperation in the gas sector? Vladimir Putin: We do not have any particular competition, I mean in terms of extraction volumes in Uzbekistan. We do not have much competition with Uzbekistan in the gas sector. If our oil and gas companies, which will come here or are already present and plan to work here, — Gazprom, LUKOIL, — produce a higher volume of gas, then some sales related questions may arise. But if our companies do come here, we will agree beforehand on how, in what way, and what markets we will enter.