Uzbek President Islam Karimov has died after suffering a stroke at the age of 78, three diplomatic sources told Reuters news agency on Friday, leaving no obvious successor to take over.
The Uzbek government did not immediately confirm the reports. Earlier on Friday it said the health of Karimov, who has been in hospital since last Saturday, had sharply deteriorated.
"Yes, he has died," one of the diplomatic sources said when asked about Karimov's condition.
Long criticised by the West and human rights groups for his authoritarian style of leadership, Karimov had ruled Uzbekistan since 1989, first as the head of the local Communist Party and then as president of the newly independent republic from 1991.
commonspace.eu with reuters news agency
"As expected the declaration from the 5th Eastern Partnership summit did not change in any significant way the approach of the EU to the eastern neighbourhood. However the declaration has something for everybody, and there are interesting nuances in the text that can form the basis in the future for the next steps in the EU's engagement with the region", commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment.
Getting the Eastern Neighbourhood right is a key necessity for the future security and prosperity of Europe. The Brussels summit offers an opportunity for important steps on this matter in the right direction – not as an end in themselves but rather as a part of a longer term and more ambitious vision.