August 1-August 8, 1998
  1. Uzbekistan cuts gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan

  2. Current report on grain harvest

  3. Uzbek-Russian statement on the situation in Afghanistan

  4. ABA to hold workshop for Oliy Majlis experts

  5. Taliban warn Russia, Uzbekistan of interference

  6. Satistics on cotton in Uzbekistan

  7. U.S. Ambassador gives news conference
  8. Shahimardan recovers from flood
  9. Uzbek boxers prove their strength once again
  Uzbekistan cuts gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan
  Itar-Tass reports that Uzbekistan has cut off gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan because of the $2.5 million debt accumulated by the neighboring republic. The Kyrgyz government is now conducting emergency negotiations with the suppliers. It has already signed an agreement with Uztransgas on stage-by-stage resumption of gas supplies, Shalkhar Dzhaisanbayev, general director of the Kirgizgazmunaizat company, told a briefing on Monday. The director said "the Kyrgyz government has provided Uzbek colleagues with a letter guaranteeing gas payments." Among the reasons for non-payments, Dzhaisanbayev listed "difficulties with the Kyrgyz budget following recent natural disasters in the country." The director promised that Kyrgyzstan would begin repaying the debt within the next few days. One of the measures to solve the debt issue will be a 25 percent increase in gas fees to be paid by Kyrgyz residents. Furthermore, the government is posed to collect gas debts from Kyrgyz industrial enterprises, the Kirgizgazmunaizat management said. Under last year's inter-governmental agreements, Uzbekistan is to supply Kyrgyzstan with gas at a low rate of $55 per a thousand cubic meters. Kyrgyzstan pays 50 percent in material resources (irrigation water, agricultural produce) and 50 percent in cash.
  Uzbekistan reports on grain harvest
  Uzbek farms have gathered 3.191 million tonnes of grain so far this year compared with 2.861 at the same time in 1997 and against planned output of 3.895 in 1998, an agriculture ministry spokesman said on Monday. The total Uzbek grain production figure would be higher if output from individual households, calculated separately, was included. The spokesman said that 1.246 million hectares of land had been harvested so far in 1998 out of a total 1.360 million hectares sown to grains. Farms had already fulfilled the state order of 2.1 million tonnes of grain, he added. Official forecasts peg the total Uzbek 1998 harvest, including output from individual households, at 4.22 million tonnes from 1.41 million hectares. This was expected to comprise 3.99 million tonnes of wheat and 230,000 tonnes of barley. The former Soviet republic produced 3.365 million tonnes of grain in 1997, well short of estimated consumption of 4.5 million tonnes. The most populous of the five Central Asian states, with a population of nearly 24 million, Uzbekistan is encouraging farmers to shift away from cotton production and produce more wheat, with the aim of achieving grain self-sufficiency.
  Uzbekistan is concerned over Afghanistan
  Russia and Uzbekistan on Wednesday urged the Taleban Islamic movement, which controls much of Afghanistan, to halt its advance on opposition forces in the north of the country. ``Russia and Uzbekistan are deeply concerned at the escalation of bloodshed on Afghan territory,'' they said in a joint statement issued after talks on Tuesday between senior government officials in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. ``The Taleban movement must stop its armed activity immediately,'' the statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Taleban forces have made deep inroads into opposition-held territory in northern Afghanistan since the weekend and are closing in on Mazar-i-Sharif, an opposition stronghold and the last main city outside Taleban control. Mazar-i-Sharif is some 60 km (40 miles) south of Termez, in southern Uzbekistan. Taleban troops and forces loyal to Uzbek faction leader Abdul Rashid Dostum fought each other on Wednesday near the town of Daulatabad, farther to the north, according to the Afghan Islamic Press news service. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and Chief of General Staff General Anatoly Kvashnin met Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov on Tuesday to discuss Central Asian stability in light of events in Afghanistan. Afghanistan borders the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Russia keeps peacekeeping troops in Tajikistan and helps the republic, recovering after a five-year civil war, to patrol its border with Afghanistan. Uzbekistan and Russia are both highly nervous about the threat posed to their security by instability in Afghanistan. Central Asia is a major drug trafficking route for Afghan heroin and opium. Uzbek President Islam Karimov is also concerned about the spread of religious fundamentalism from his southern neighbour -- a worry shared by Moscow. The statement said that Russia, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states had the right to take any measures necessary to strenghten their borders in order to ensure security. But it added there was no question of any interference on Afghan soil-- a comment Russia may have felt obliged to make after 10 years of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, which ended in 1989. ``Only the Afghans can decide their destiny and, without any interference from outside, put an end to their long civil war,'' the statement said. Russias RIA Novosti news agency said on Tuesday that Uzbek Foreign Ministry officials had denied reports that Dostum had been forced to flee to Uzbekistan by recent fighting.
  ABA to hold workshop for Oliy Majlis experts
  The Oliy Majlis and the American Bar Association has conducted a workshop today for deputies and other legal experts involved in drafting the laws of Uzbekistan. The workshop will study ways to improve the selection and use of public opinion and public comment to draft laws. The American Bar Association representatives believe that this workshop will be an important step to increase the participation of citizens in political decision-making.
  ABA to hold workshop for Oliy Majlis experts
  Afghanistan's Islamic Taliban militia Thursday warned Russia and Uzbekistan not to block its military advance in northern Afghanistan. "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan condemns the statement of Russia and Uzbekistan and considers this as gross interference in Afghan domestic affairs," said an official statement issued by the hard-line militia in Kabul, according to reports monitored here. It accused Russia of backing the northern-based anti-Taliban alliance and said the northern neighbors had made "irresponsible assertions." The statement came a day after Russia and Uzbekistan issued a joint statement in the Uzbek capital after bilateral talks, urging the Taliban to stop its latest attack on the rival northern alliance. Russia and Uzbekistan have made it clear they would boost border security to prevent clashes spilling over into Central Asia. The Taliban's supreme leader Mohammad Omar also slammed Russia and Uzbekistan's joint statement, saying Russian support for the anti-Taliban forces will lead to "serious consequences", the reports said. Omar said the militia was waging a struggle for peace and enforcement of Islam and its current offensive in the north was progressing steadily according to the plan. The Taliban, who control two-thirds of Afghanistan, have pushed to some 100 km of Mazar-e-Sharif, the last bastion of the northern alliance.
  Satistics on cotton in Uzbekistan
  Uzbekistan, heavily reliant on its cotton crop for foreign exchange revenue, is due to begin the 1998 harvest after August 15, a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry said on Friday. In a country where production of the key commodity is still highly centralised, the spokesman said cotton cultivated under protective plastic sheeting would be gathered first. The rest of the crop would be harvested from the beginning of September, he said. This year 311,000 hectares were under plastic, up sharply from the 181,000 last year. A total of 1.53 million hectares had been sown to cotton in the former Soviet republic this year, 30,000 hectares up from 1997. The government has set a target of 4.0 million tonnes of raw cotton this year, unchanged from last season. Raw cotton output in 1997 totalled 3.7 million tonnes, yielding 1.08 million tonnes of cotton fibre. The ministry spokesman declined to give a forecast for this year's campaign, saying official estimates would be ready only by the beginning of September. But he said that growing conditions had been far from ideal in some of the key regions. Low temperatures meant cotton had matured around 10 days later than usual, and heavy rains in spring and summer led to 200,000 hectareso being resown. The spokesman said insects had damaged crops in the Khorezm region in the west of the country. He declined to estimate production losses caused by pests, but independent estimates have pegged the damaged area at 50,000 hectares. The agricultural attache at the United States embassy in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in June forecast 1998/99 cotton fibre production at 1.153 million tonnes Cotton fibre exports were forecast by the attache at around 990,000 tonnes, up from last year's 978,900. The Uzbek government, which has a monopoly on cotton exports, raised $1.58 billion from exporting last year's harvest, or 36 percent of total 1997 earnings abroad.
  U.S. Ambassador gives news conference
  U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Joseph Presel said in a news conference that the trade relations between Uzbekistan and the United States are very low. In 1997 the United States exported approximately $234 million dollars worth of goods and services to Uzbekistan as compared to$352 million in 1996. Uzbekistan's exports to the U.S. amounted to approximately $39 million versus $159 million in 1996. The main reason for the decrease of the trade turnover is the absence of the soum's convertibility. Corruption, according to the American Ambassador, is another reason for the trade figures being not so high. Mr. Presel said that in 1997 the most important U.S. exports to Uzbekistan were aircraft, vehicles and machinery. Uzbekistan's principal exports to the U.S. were inorganic chemicals, metals and cotton. The U.S. 1998 budget for Uzbekistan is approximately $11 million. Since Independence in 1991 total U.S. direct investments is around $500-600 million with Newmont Mining and Case Corporation being the two largest U.S. investors. He hoped that Uzbekistan could export new products to the United States and provide more favorable conditions for Amereican companies to do business in Uzbekistan. The U.S. Ambassador also spoke about bilateral military cooperation between the two countries. In addition to upcoming Centrazbat military exercises in September, a number of very senior U.S. generals and admirals will visit Uzbekistan. Speaking about the new Tax Code of Uzbekistan Joseph Presel said that the 45 % income tax is too high for ordinary individuals but it is better than not having any tax code at all or having the tax code based on someone's ideas.
  Shahimardan recovers from flood
  The reconstruction works are continuing in Shahimardan. In addition to humanitarian aid from different provinces of Uzbekistan, foreign organizations and states are also doing their best to ease the pain from the floods. After the United States Agency for International Development and Korean Daewoo corporation lended their helping hand to the victims, Japan announced that it would give Uzbekistan 50,000 dollars in emergency grants-in-aid. Most of the residents of Shahimardan who lost their homes are currently living in the homes of their relatives or neighbors. Architects have already prepared drafts for new housings. The damaged gas pipe line supplying Shahimardan and Yardan left the locals without gas, but the Ferghana Gas Department have already begun laying a new pipe line.
  Uzbek boxers prove their strength once again
  In Good Will Games in New York Uzbekistan was represented with only two athletes. Two boxers Timur Tulyakov and Dilshod Yorbekov justified the trust of the Uzbek Sports Committee proving once again that Uzbekistan has all the resources to become the world's leading boxing nation along with Russia, the United States and Cuba. Boxers from these three nations were defeated by Timur Tulyakov on his way to the gold medal. Dilshod Yorbekov received the bronze medal.

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