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Economic ties between Uzbekistan and Japan have risen in recent years with Tokyo's total allocation to the Central Asian state so far nearing US$ 1.6 billion, international media reported this week. Of the total, US $1.44 billion is in the form of credits and US $120 million as aid.

The two countries expect to enhance this cooperation in the future, particularly in the power engineering sector, textiles, chemical industry, as well as small and medium-size businesses.

This week a new UN-backed centre for preventing AIDS and drug addiction among young people opened in the eastern Uzbek town of Andizhan. A report from Uzbekistan's health ministry says that 75 percent of AIDS sufferers are drug addicts; there are officially estimated 18,000 drug addicts in the country. It goes on to add that most of the addicts contracted AIDS by sharing needles.

Also in Uzbekistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - working in the country since 1993 - is implementing a second programme cycle for 2000-2004.

The programme aims at creating a steady source of income for beneficiaries through the development of micro-credits and private enterprises, as well as the development of human potential to assist the process of reforms, along with an expansion of access to modern telecommunication technologies.

Reconstruction and development are the main themes in Central Asian states these days. In neighbouring Kazakhstan the authorities are planning to improve the railway system by starting an investment programme. The length of the country's railroads is 13,597 km.

Similarly, in western Kazakhstan the government plans to improve the road network. According to Kazhmurat Nagmanov, minister of transport and communications, from next year a large road construction project in West Kazakhstan will start. During two to three years an international transport corridor will be completed.

First will be the reconstruction of motorways Shymkent-Samara, Uralsk-Aktobe, as well as Uralsk-Atyrau. Reconstruction of the latter will be carried out with the help of a Japanese loan.

Meanwhile, a road terminal will be built by British companies between the border of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan at a cost of half-a-million US dollars, Iranian Radio reported this week. The two countries share a 350 km-long border, frequently used by drug smugglers.

Similarly Turkmenistan is rebuilding the western Turkmenbashi sea port, which the authorities expect to complete by the end of the year. The project will cost US $40 million. Of the total, US $30 million is a credit by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the rest has been provided by the Turkmen government.

According to media reports, after the reconstruction is over, the Turkmenbashi terminal will be able to accept and service transit ships of all types.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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