TASHKENT, March 16 The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed a memorandum with
Uzbekistan on Thursday to resume operations halted under the
previous Tashkent leadership.
Sources told Reuters this month the EBRD was close to
restarting work in the former Soviet republic -- Central Asia's
most populous nation -- following the death last year of
strongman leader Islam Karimov.
Karimov has been succeeded by his former prime minister,
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and the EBRD's return may encourage reforms
in the $70 billion economy, which is still run largely in the
Soviet command style.
On Thursday, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti told reporters
in Tashkent the sides had formally agreed to revive the bank's
operations and set out the areas of initial engagement such as
supporting small and medium business, municipal services,
transport, and communications.
The London-based lender will develop a country strategy for
Uzbekistan and present it next year, while an EBRD team will put
together a pipeline of projects in the months, Chakrabarti said.
(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas
Auyezov; Editing by Richard Lough)