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Uzbek leader praises Ukraine polls as choice for peace

Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov on Wednesday praised the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election as promoting peace and calming “waves of fear” in other former Soviet states.

“The elections in Ukraine demonstrated that the majority of voters chose peace and stability in their country. They chose a united Ukraine,” Karimov told reporters in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

Karimov spoke to journalists following talks with visiting Latvian President Andris Berzins, who was in Uzbekistan for two-day official visit.

Russia’s statements that it was ready for dialogue with the winner of the election, chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko, were welcomed in post-Soviet countries “not only joyfully, but with a huge sigh of relief,” Karimov said.

He called the conflict between Russia and Ukraine “unexpected and unnatural” and said it had sent “waves of fear” through other regions, especially through other ex-Soviet countries.

After Russia annexed Crimea, Uzbekistan urged Moscow and Kiev to resolve the crisis only using political means in line with international norms.

The Uzbek foreign ministry stressed it was unacceptable under the United Nations charter to use force or the threat of force against the territorial integrity of any country.

Uzbekistan’s 76-year-old president has ruled the secular mainly Muslim nation of 30 million since it gained independence with the 1991 Soviet collapse.