Turkey offers Uzbeks, Kyrgyz aid against rebels
ANKARA, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Turkey has offered ``financial and moral'' aid for Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the fight against suspected Islamic guerrillas opposing Uzbekistan's secular government, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Friday.
The two former Soviet republics have recently fought heavy clashes with gunmen thought to belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which opposes Uzbek President Islam Kerimov's secular administration.
``Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are now facing terrorism. We told them that Turkey can provide financial and moral aid,'' Cem told a news conference.
Turkey's 16-years of conflict with seperatist Kurdish guerrillas had given it experience in ``how to deal with terrorism,'' he said.
But he declined to give details of the assistance, which he said Turkey was already giving to Uzbekistan.
``I cannot go into details,'' Cem said. ``This is a security matter. These countries need their security to be strengthened.''
Secular Turkey has close cultural and historical ties with Central Asian states and the Caucasus and has tried to bring those regions into its sphere of influence since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The guerrilla attacks have raised questions about security in oil-rich Central Asia. The guerrillas are thought to have crossed into Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan, which they entered from Tajikistan, another Central Asian republic.
Central Asian leaders have vowed to cooperate against the rebels whom they say are trained and financied by Afghanistan's Islamist Taleban militia. The Taleban has denied the charge.
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