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Uzbekistan Praises Obama's Speech to Muslims

Uzbekistan has issued a rare statement of praise for the U.S. government, calling President Barack Obama's recent address to Muslims a start to a new era of relations with the Islamic world.

A statement from Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry says Mr. Obama's speech was an "appeal to break with a vicious circle of mistrust" with the Muslim world. The ministry said it confirms the "realism and pragmatism" in the Obama administration's foreign policy approach.

The statement was released through Uzbekistan's official Jahon news agency, which is run by the Foreign Ministry.

Muslim-majority Uzbekistan has had strained relations with the United States since 2005. Uzbekistan closed a U.S. base serving troops in Afghanistan, following Western criticism over the violent suppression of anti-government demonstrators in the city of Andijan.

There have been several diplomatic overtures since then, including this month's meeting between Uzbek President Islam Karimov and U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland.

President Obama called for a new beginning in relations between the U.S. and Muslims in a speech at Egypt's Cairo University last week.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.