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Bishkek, 30th August: Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and Prince Aga Khan IV, the leader of the world's Ismailis, signed a treaty today on setting up a Central Asian University branch that will promote education in and studies of mountainous areas and societies.
The university will become a Harvard for Central Asia, Akayev said. People living in Central Asian mountainous areas need an infrastructure if they are to lead a normal life, he said. An understanding has been reached with the Aga Khan that a tourist infrastructure will be developed in Kyrgyzstan, Akayev said.
The population of Central Asian mountains is extremely impoverished and isolated, the Aga Khan said. The new university will make it possible for them to create an intellectual environment and resources that will bring them closer together, he said.
The university will be active in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Aga Khan said he has personally donated 5m dollars to the university in Kyrgyzstan, adding that he hopes the country's parliament will ratify the treaty shortly and the university will start its activities there.