French FM demands Uzbek security ties
France and Uzbekistan must deepen security cooperation to combat jihadist groups and stop violent attacks, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the media while visiting Tashkent.
Suspected Islamist militants from the mainly Muslim Central Asia have been blamed for the metro bombing in St Petersburg on April 3 and an attack in Stockholm on April 7, where a truck drove into a crowd.
Uzbekistan said it had informed western nations that Rakhmat Akilov, the suspect in the Stockholm attack, was an Islamic State recruit.
Ayrault met Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Tashkent and told Reuters that security, economic reforms and human rights were discussed.
“We have actively discussed terrorism and radicalisation issues as both of our countries have some youth who are influenced by such groups and choose jihad,” Ayrault said.
“That is why it is very necessary for us to have an exchange of information to fight against such a phenomenon. The terrorist acts that happened in St Petersburg and Stockholm remind us of such a necessity,” the outgoing minister said.
France holds the first round of its presidential election on April 23 and remains in a state of emergency with the military patrolling through Paris.
Ayrault said the level of cooperation between Paris and Tashkent was insufficient.
“Of course, there is some level of cooperation but we need to strengthen it,” he said.
Ayrault told the media he had discussed the possibility of “displaying the rich Islamic heritage of Uzbekistan as represented by the ancient cities of Samarkand [pictured] and Bukhara at the Louvre museum in Paris”. He described the country’s architectural gems as examples of “enlightened Islam”.
“This is just a project but I know that the Louvre curators are working on that,” the foreign minister said.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan had defined almost 1,000km of border and were preparing documents on delimitation, Kamilov told the international media in Tashkent.
“We have succeeded in many issues. In particular, on such complex and sensitive issue as delimitation of our borders. Today we have already defined almost 1,000km and are preparing agreement to confirm forever that these are mutually recognised borders,” the foreign minister said.
Kamilov called on Kyrgyzstan to comply with the principles of good-neighbourliness, mutual respect and interests on the sensitive issue.
As part of implementation of the development strategy of Uzbekistan until 2021, the government was ordered to develop an action plan for delimitation and demarcation of state borders in the first quarter of this year.