President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolence to the people of Uzbekistan after the long-time leader of the Central Asian country, President Islam Karimov, was buried over the weekend.
Karimov, the country’s only president in a quarter-century of independence from the Soviet Union, died of a stroke at age 78 on Friday and was buried the following day in the ancient city of Samarkand, his birthplace, the government said in a statement.
In a letter Sunday Rivlin wrote, “Israel stands beside the Uzbek nation at this difficult time.
“We in Israel are very pleased with the good relations between our two countries and the cooperation between our two nations in a number of areas. We look forward to continuing to expand and to further enhance the good relations with Uzbekistan in the future,” he said.
Rivlin added: “There have been strong Jewish communities in Uzbekistan for thousands of years and our two nations share a rich cultural history. We are proud of the many thousands of Israelis who immigrated here from Uzbekistan from such regions as Samarkand and Bukhara.”
One of the world’s most authoritarian rulers, Karimov cultivated no apparent successor, and his death raised concerns that the predominantly Sunni Muslim country could face prolonged infighting among clans over its leadership, something its Islamic radical movement could exploit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.