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Uzbekistan's new leader pledges better ties with Russia, US

Associated Press Associated Press 9/09/2016
Uzbekistan's Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Putin arrived to express his condolences and visit a grave of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov in Samarkand. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press Uzbekistan's Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev, left, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Putin arrived to express his condolences and visit a grave of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov in Samarkand. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW — The acting president of Uzbekistan, chosen following the death of the country's authoritarian leader, says he wants closer ties with Russia, the United States and China.

Islam Karimov, who crushed opposition throughout his nearly 27-year rule, died last week without leaving an apparent successor. The country's Senate on Thursday elected Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev as acting president. Uzbekistan will still have to hold a presidential election.

In remarks to the parliament released on Friday, the 59-year old Mirziyoyev sought to strike a reconciliatory note, pledging to improve ties with Russia, the United States, China and other countries.

Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous nation, borders Afghanistan, making it of strategic interest to Russia and the United States.

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