March 14, 2017 / 2:18 PM / 5 months ago

EBRD President to visit Uzbekistan for talks on reviving operations

ALMATY, March 14 (Reuters) - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Suma Chakrabarti will visit Uzbekistan on March 15-17 to discuss cooperation, the London-based lender said on Tuesday.

Sources told Reuters this month the EBRD was close to restarting work in the former Soviet republic -- Central Asia's most populous nation -- after a decade-long absence following the death last year of authoritarian leader Islam Karimov.

"The visit will include high-level meetings with the authorities to discuss ways of increasing EBRD engagement with Uzbekistan," the EBRD said in a statement.

Karimov has been succeeded by his former prime minister, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and the EBRD's return will encourage reformists who want to modernise the country's $70 billion a year economy, still run largely in the Soviet command style.

"I look forward to our dialogue and discussing ways of increasing the EBRD's work in Uzbekistan where the Bank currently retains a small portfolio of projects," the EBRD statement quoted Chakrabarti as saying.

The statement said areas of interest included regional connectivity and integration, advisory services and finance for small- and medium-sized enterprises, and financing for green energy and energy efficiency projects. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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