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Iran prepared to invest $10 billion in Kyrgyzstan

Tehran and Bishkek discuss closer collaboration.

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An Iraqi money dealer counts Iranian rial banknotes bearing a portrait of the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, at an exchange office in Baghdad on February 3, 2012. President Barack Obama signed an executive order placing sanctions on Iran's Central Bank on February 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ ALI AL-SAADI (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran wants to invest $10 billion in Kyrgyzstan and launch direct Tehran-Bishkek flights, reported the Times of Central Asia, a sign of warming relations between the Islamic Republic and the young Kyrgyz government. 

Kyrgyzstan installed a new government in December after eight months of turmoil following the ousting of former authoritarian leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev and the eruption of deadly ethnic clashes between the nation's Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities. Nearly 500 people were killed. 

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The semi-official Fars news agency said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in Tehran with Kyrgyzstan's new finance minister, Akhylbek Japarov, on Tuesday and called for greater ties between the Islamic Republic and the strategic Central Asian nation, also home to a key US air base.

Officials discussed the resumption of direct flights between Bishkek and Tehran as well as other projects to boost their joint trade, developments welcomed by the Iranian parliament, according the state-run IRNA news agency

Iran's economy is struggling, recently hit with fresh sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears is being used to make a bomb, a charge Iran denies.

The Islamic Republic imports meat, grain and metals from the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country and exports mostly clothing, food, and building materials, according to the Tehran Times

Both the United States and Russia actively court the Kyrgyz government, seeking to benefit from the nation's strategic location and resources. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/120712/iran-eager-invest-10-billion-kyrgyzstan