BISHKEK -- Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan reopened the Ak-Tash border checkpoint on Tuesday (December 25) after five years, 24.kg reported, citing the Kyrgyz government.
The move allows residents of the Barak exclave, a Kyrgyz village surrounded by Uzbek territory, to freely travel to Kyrgyzstan. About 20 Kyrgyz families remain in the exclave, which is administered by Ak-Tash village of Kara-Suu District, Osh Province, Kyrgyzstan.
The checkpoint will work every day from 9am to 7pm and around the clock during emergencies.
"Earlier, residents of the Barak exclave were forced to cross the national border through the Kyzyl-Kiya highway checkpoint, making a detour of 150km. To reach Osh, they had to drive about 300km," said a statement from the Kyrgyz government.
"Now, one has to cover little more than a kilometre through Ak-Tash to reach the main territory of Kyrgyzstan," it said.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkaly Abylgaziyev and his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulla Aripov, reached an agreement to reopen the checkpoint during the second meeting of the Council of Heads of Border Provinces of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on December 18.