Having attended the First OIC Summit on Science and Technology which was organized on 9-10 September in Astana, the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani arrived in Kabul, Sunday evening. Besides attending the OIC Summit, the President also met with a number of heads of the member-states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
President Ghani met with the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the OIC Summit, Sunday afternoon, Astana.
President Mirziyoyev expressed delight over meeting with President Ghani, viewing such meetings as of vital importance for stimulating cooperation between the two countries. He said, “The Afghan-Uzbek relations and cooperation have improved and these relations will be further expanded.”
Terming Afghanistan and Uzbekistan as two friendly nations, he said, “We are two brother nations. Our relations have unprecedentedly been bolstered up particularly in the realm of transit.” He added, “Our objective is to establish people-to-people relations where the Afghan people will be endowed with prosperity.”
The Uzbek president added, “There is a need for augmenting bilateral cooperation to make substantial progress in seeking peace, pursuing security and expanding commerce and transit.”
President Ghani thanked President Mirziyoyev for his positive vision and regarded such meetings as the bedrock for encouraging undying Afghan-Uzbek relations. He said, “The two countries will move forward with such visions of cooperation.”
On behalf of the Afghan people and Government, President Ghani passed his salutations to President Mirziyoyev. He called Uzbekistan a good partner and friend of the Afghan people and Government.
He thanked president Mirziyoyev for appointing a special envoy of Uzbekistan to Afghanistan, underscoring that this will contribute to strengthening relations between the two countries. President Ghani added, “Optimism has multiplied for boosting transit and commercial ties.”
President Ghani described Uzbekistan as a transit and commerce partner of Afghanistan, reaffirming that such relations will considerably affect the two nations and countries in the region. He said that the two countries will hold exhaustive discussions over transit cooperation during his upcoming visit to Uzbekistan.
President Ghani remarked that it is only the affable bilateral relations which bring the two countries together and that there is no ground for our separation. He said that the two countries should be focused on increasing cooperation, while taking into account the respective fields of mutual interests. The President stated that strenuous efforts should be focused on the railway connecting Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China. He also said that the Mazar e Sharif – Herat railway which will link up the Persian Gulf Nations should usher in a well-built transit opportunity.
President Ghani said, “China stands ready to manage its exports and imports via railways that are connected to Afghanistan. Necessary facilities will be fixed up for smooth export of Afghan marbles via Mazar e Sharif – Herat railway which will consequently allow for extension of our transit route up to Chabahar Port.”
President Ghani said, “We will examine different funding modalities for the Mazar e Sharif – Herat railway and we are interested in joint investment.” He proposed mutual discussions be initiated on this.
President Ghani suggested a consortium be established to cooperatively assess the activities where practical measures should be taken on transit.
President Mirziyoyev stated, “A great deal of efforts are being made in collaboration with international organizations to come up with an effective funding modality for the railways since it is a regional project.”
The Uzbek president said that there is still a lot more we need to do to boost bilateral commerce. He said, “Uzbekistan is prepared to provide commercial facilities to Afghan traders in Termez which may add to the expansion of bilateral commercial ties.”
Speaking of collaboratively working on transmitting the power transmission lines from Uzbekistan to Pul e Khumri, President Mirziyoyev said, “We are assisting Afghanistan in the area of electricity.” On educational cooperation, he said that the Uzbek government will provide the Afghan students with educational opportunities to acquire higher education in Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek president said that the Uzbekistan Commercial Council will seek ways to engage Afghan traders to expand commercial cooperation.
He said, “The commercial ties between the two countries are in favor of the region. We are ready to provide facilities for the Afghan traders. Less tax will be levied on goods of the Afghan traders.”
President Ghani said that he would direct the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries to prepare a list of the exporting goods and products and also to look into ways of strengthening cooperation. He also announced that a delegation of Afghan traders will travel to Uzbekistan for detailed discussions on the issue.
The President also touched on transmission of power lines from Uzbekistan to Pul e Khumri. He said that the Afghan energy sector will work in closer cooperation with the special envoy of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan in order to make significant progress in this area.
President Mirziyoyev stated that Uzbekistan is eager to invest in loom sector of Afghanistan, suggesting ways of cooperation be sought.
He warmly welcomed President Ghani’s plan to visit Uzbekistan in the nearest opportunity, describing his visit as another crucial step taken for strengthening bilateral ties. President Mirziyoyev said, “We are looking forward to receiving you in Uzbekistan.”
President Ghani arrived in Kabul Sunday evening, concluding his two-day official visit to Kazakhstan.