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Preparations Underway For Regional Economic Summit In Ashgabat

Ashgabat, May 10 (RFE/RL) - The General Secretary of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Ahmad Shamshad, today arrived in Ashgabat to prepare for next week's ECO summit in Turkmenistan's capital. Strategic problems of economic cooperation in the region, and the organisational structure of the ECO will be the focus of the summit.

The ECO was found in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. In 1992, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikstan and Afghanistan joined the regional economic grouping.

Events associated with the summit open tomorrow, as more than 40 heads of state, foreign ministers and parliamentary delegations begin arriving. The opening of an Iran-Turkmenistan rail link is scheduled Monday (May 13). Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Bolshakov, will represent Moscow at summit events. Bolshakov will also visit Iran for talks with President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Turkmenistan for talks with President Saparmurat Niyazov. his talks are expected to focus on trade and economic cooperation, and the use of Caspian Sea natural resources.