New Delhi: After the death of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov was confirmed on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China had lost a “true friend” with the demise of the Uzbek president.

China said that it considered Uzbekistan as an important partner in its war on terror. Karimov, who was 78-years old, had served as president of ex-Soviet Uzbekistan after it acquired its independence from the Soviet Union. Karimov was bedridden at a hospital after he suffered a stroke.

China sent a message to acting president Nigmatilla Yuldoshev through the Foreign Ministry where it said that Karimov had made “historic contributions”  to the development of Uzbekistan.

“President Karimov dedicated himself over a long period to friendly Sino-Uzbek cooperation and put painstaking efforts into developing an all-round, strategic partnership and increasing the traditional friendship between the two peoples. Karimov’s unfortunate passing is not only a huge loss to the Uzbek people, but also means the Chinese people have lost a true friend,” Xi said.

Karimov will be buried on Saturday in his hometown of Samarkand.

China has repeatedly expressed its apprehensivness about the growing Islamist militants influence in Central Asia and was working closely along with Uzbekistan to curb all elements that might create unrest in the region.  

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