DUSHANBE - Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon agreed on Friday to scrap an unpopular visa regime in place for more than 17 years during an "ice-breaker" meeting between the Central Asian nations.

Mirziyoyev, who made improving Uzbekistan's relations with its neighbours a priority when he took office in 2016, was greeted with great fanfare during his first visit to the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

He had previously promised to "break the ice" between the two countries that had endured frosty relations due to animosity between Rakhmon -- in power since 1992 -- and Islam Karimov, who took over in Uzbekistan during the late Soviet era and held power until his death in 2016.

Students from schools and universities in Tajikistan lined the streets in central Dushanbe, waving miniature flags of both countries, while a concert was held to mark Mirziyoyev's arrival.

Tajik leader Rakhmon said that the "brotherly peoples" of the two countries had "waited many years" for the visa regime to be scrapped, as well as for other positive developments in the long-fractured bilateral relationship.

Mirziyoyev in turn said there were "no outstanding problems" in the relationship after negotiations that also touched on improving trade and transit between the two authoritarian countries.

Under the key agreement reached Friday, Uzbek and Tajik citizens will be able to spend 30 days visa-free in the other's country, although it is not clear when the agreement will enter into force. Late Uzbek president Karimov was famously hostile towards other countries in the region, even threatening war with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over water disputes in 2012.

Uzbekistan introduced visa restrictions for Tajiks in late 2000, which Tajikistan swiftly countered.

The thaw in relations has seen the two countries open a number of border crossings that had not been used for close to a decade earlier this month and resume air travel for the first time in 25 years in 2017.

Moreover, unlike Karimov, Mirziyoyev has not opposed Tajik plans to build a giant hydroelectric dam upstream of Uzbekistan, a country of some 32 million people that relies heavily on agriculture.

A joint statement released by the pair on Friday said Uzbekistan was prepared to "participate" in the construction of the multi-billion dollar dam, although it was not specified how it might do so.

Landlocked Uzbekistan and Tajikistan both share a border with war-torn Afghanistan and look to Russia and China for help boosting their struggling economies.