Nazarbayev: Uzbekistan does not pose threat to Kazakhstan

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ASTANA, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - The threat to Kazakhstan is not originating from Uzbekistan itself, but from terrorists who penetrate Uzbekistan from other countries, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

"For Kazakhstan, the threat emanates not from Andizhan but from extremists, radicals and terrorists who penetrate [Uzbekistan] from other countries," Nazarbayev said Thursday at a press conference in Astana.

"If uprisings in Kyrgyzstan had spread into Uzbekistan, all of us would have had enough of it," Nazarbayev said. "If armed people, including foreigners, seize a prison and set free 600 criminals, then seize a government building, what should be done?...Israel never negotiates with criminals, so why should others?"

Nazarbayev declined to explain what the Kazakh authorities would do if a similar situation emerged in Kazakhstan.

He said the Uzbek and Kyrgyz unrests were connected with social conditions in those countries.

"Unfortunately, there is high unemployment and poor [living conditions] there," he said.

On May 13, a group of armed people freed prisoners, including extremists in Andizhan, Uzbekistan. Government forces crushed the revolt. The authorities insist Islamic militants are to blame for the conflict that killed 176 people, according to official data. Journalists and human rights activists put the number much higher.

Opposition protests and disorders in Kyrgyzstan in March resulted in a change of power and the flight of President Askar Akayev.

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