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Afghanistan Seeking Better Ties With Central Asia

31 August 2004 -- Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah arrived in the Uzbek capital on 29 August for an official visit aimed at improving regional relations with his country's Central Asian neighbors.

At a press conference in Tashkent the same night, Abdullah said the future of Afghanistan "depends on the level of relations with our neighbors." He said the Afghan government wants to create a modern Silk Road, which would see Afghanistan once again becoming a transit country between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.

Abdullah said the struggle against terrorism and the drug trade were also central issues in his meetings with Uzbek dignitaries, including Prime Minister Shankat Mirziev and Foreign Minister Sadyk Safaev.

The two sides signed joint protocols on creating an Uzbek-Afghan commission on trade and economic relations, on increasing transit and transport cooperation, and allowing for consultations between their respective foreign ministries.

Meanwhile, Abdullah has left Uzbekistan for India.