France's President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hand with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, prior to a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Uzbek president visits France in first visit to EU country

October 09, 2018 - 8:35 am

PARIS (AP) — Uzbekistan's president has made his first trip to a European Union country, meeting with French leader Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Macron's office said Tuesday that Shavkat Mirziyoyev is signing partnership agreements with French companies including energy group Total, Veolia and Suez for water facilities, nuclear company Orano and Airbus Helicopters. No final contract was expected to be reached.

The Uzbek president came to power in 2016 following the death of the country's longtime autocratic ruler, Islam Karimov.

Mirziyoyev has promoted gradual liberal changes in the Central Asian country of about 33 million. He has reshuffled the government, removing many old-guard officials, including the chief of the nation's national security agency.

Mirziyoyev has sought to maintain friendly ties with Russia while moving to expand ties with the West.

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