Tuesday, June 05, 2012 -
It is possible for Uzbekistan to join the customs union sometime in the future, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists in the Uzbek capital on Tuesday.
Russia’s head of state was in Tashkent on the first leg of his whistle-stop tour of Asian countries.
Putin said that Uzbekistan’s membership of the trilateral union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus would be “subject to negotiations,” the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Current talks are about Uzbekistan integrating into a free trade zone within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), he said.
Putin held the news conference after speaking with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov in which the two inked a tentative agreement on Uzbekistan’s accession to the free trade zone, a critical component of Putin's Eurasian Economic Union.
The memorandum of understanding stipulates that negotiations are to be finalized before the end of this year.
"Uzbekistan joined the CIS free trade zone," said Putin, adding: "It is a good sign, which proves that more and more CIS countries are interested in integration processes."
Putin and Karimov also signed a joint declaration of strategic national partnership.
The Russian president said plans were underway to expand economic cooperation but “it is too early to speak about them.”
Nevertheless, he said he was satisfied with the results of his brief visit to Tashkent.
From Tashkent, Putin will fly to China, then to Kazakhstan on Thursday.