Pakistan and Uzbekistan leaders held a virtual meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, with a particular focus on trade, security and defense.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev also underlined the importance of fighting the rising tide of Islamophobia and promoting interfaith harmony, according to a statement from the Pakistani prime minister’s office.
They also reviewed the progress of the Trans-Afghanistan Railroad Project, which was agreed between Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan earlier this year.
The project will link the Central Asian transport network with the ports of Gwadar, Karachi and Qasim in Pakistan.
Once completed, the initiative will change the geo-economic dynamics across the region, according to Khan.
Underscoring the need for early completion of preferential trade deals and transit trade agreements between the two countries, Khan said they would enhance collaboration in the fields of economy, defense, education, culture and tourism.
Highlighting Islamabad’s economic security paradigm and its shifting focus to geo-economics, he said Central Asia was a very important region in this vision.
The two leaders also discussed global and regional issues of common interest, and reaffirmed their commitment to continue supporting each other at all international and regional forums, the statement said.
Khan told Mirziyoyev about the latest situation in Indian-controlled Kashmir and underlined the need for a peaceful settlement of the prolonged dispute over the Himalayan region.
He also spoke of Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process, stressing that the current situation is a historic opportunity that Afghans must take to reach an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement of negotiations, the statement added.
The leaders agreed to increase person-to-people contact, including through religious tourism.
The two countries signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding, among others to develop further cooperation in the agricultural sector, mutual recognition in the areas of product conformity assessment, standardization, metrology and technical assistance, as well as a defense cooperation agreement, according to the statement.
Mirziyoyev repeated his invitation to Khan to attend the high-level International Conference on Regional Connectivity in Tashkent in July this year.
Khan also invited the leaders of Uzbekistan to visit Pakistan as soon as possible.