One of the world's most ancient cities, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, is hosting a meeting of Presidents of Russia Vladimir Putin and of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.
"We have accumulated a lot of questions that need discussing, and problems to be coordinated," President Putin said when opening the meeting.
Recently Russia and Uzbekistan have witnessed a slump in the mutual trade volume, the Russian leader emphasized. "And this arouses our anxiety," he said.
Putin intends to brief his Uzbek counterpart on the current work to create a single economic zone for four CIS member states: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as well as to discuss issues related to the forthcoming CIS summit due in Yalta /the Crimea, Ukraine/ in September this year.
They will also touch upon a number of international issues, including "some acute problems," Putin believes.
The parties will discuss the situation in Afghanistan, taking into account that in September the issue will be on the agenda of the UN General Assembly, he said.
Karimov in his turn described Putin's visit to Samarkand as "historic". "Samarkand is not just a city, it is a historic city," he pointed out.
For Uzbekistan Russia's role in the CIS is unequivocal, Karimov said. "I am certain that Russia is rising anew and taking its proper place in the world," he emphasized.
During the meeting he hopes to discuss bilateral relations, the Uzbek President said.
"Uzbekistan has always recognized Russia's role and interests in Central Asia, on southern Russian borders. I hope Russia also understands Uzbekistan's role in the region," Karimov stated.
He also pointed to the need to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The developments in the country "make us repeatedly consider what to do in order to avoid a new escalation of tension," he said.
Karimov is not certain that everything in Afghanistan "is developing positively." "It is necessary to prevent aggravation of the situation in the region," he emphasized, pointing to Russia's special role in settling the problem.
Big flags of Russia and Uzbekistan have been hung out at the Samarkand town hall. Between them there is a large poster that reads "Friendship proved by time."