DUSHANBE Feb 20 What would have been the first
regular passenger flight from Tajikistan to Uzbekistan in a
quarter of a century was cancelled abruptly on Monday, leaving
the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations' rapprochement in doubt.
Tajikistan's Somon Air said Tashkent airport had notified it
on Monday that the airline was not allowed to make the flight,
without giving a reason.
Uzbek carrier Uzbekistan Airways, which operates the airport
and is due to start its own flights to Tajikistan in April, had
no immediate comment.
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan agreed to resume flights, stopped
in 1992, last month after the new Tashkent government sought to
improve ties with its neighbours.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who had strained relations
with most Central Asian leaders, died in September, aged 78,
after 27 years in power.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, prime minister under Karimov, was
elected president in December and pledged to improve ties with
neighbours and reform an economy still run largely along Soviet
command model lines.
But the introduction of visa-free entry for citizens of 15
industrially developed nations was put off until 2021 shortly
after being announced.
(Reporting by Nazarali Pirnazarov; Additional reporting by
Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov in Tashkent; Writing by Olzhas
Auyezov; Editing by Janet Lawrence)