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US interest in Uzbekistan's hydrocarbons sector picked up after Karimov's visit to Washington in June 1996. During that visit, a big team of presidential aides and executives from the state-owned petroleum company Uzbekneftegaz made a presentation at Houston to top American oil executives. Karimov himself met with the CEOs of Enron and other US companies.

On the geo-strategic side, Washington is trying to build up Uzbekistan - which has the largest population among Central Asian states at more than 22m - as a pivotal country in the region. Despite Karimov's tough internal policies, the US actively backs his suspicious view of Iran and wants him to move Uzbekistan away from the Russian orbit.
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Date:Sep 25, 2000
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