Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan end border standoff

A view of abandoned Kyrgyz frontier post on the bank of Kara-Su border river between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan near the city of Jalalabad June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyzstan and its bigger Central Asian neighbor Uzbekistan have ended a standoff over a disputed border area, pulling back troops and armored vehicles, Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service said on Saturday.

The confrontation between the two former Soviet republics began last week, triggering public protests on the Kyrgyz side where President Almazbek Atambayev has accused his opponents of using the border standoff to try to destabilize the country.

A spokeswoman for the border guard service said both sides had removed their troops and armored personnel carriers (APCs) from the area near the Kyrgyz town of Kerben on Saturday morning, after talks between two border guard commanders a day earlier.

That part of the frontier is not clearly demarcated. Uzbekistan stationed two APCs and about 40 soldiers in the area last week, prompting smaller Kyrgyzstan to send two of its own APCs and a similar number of troops.

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Mark Potter