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Uzbek Foreign Minister Discusses Cooperation With Taliban Leaders

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov (left) meets with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul on October 7.
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov (left) meets with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul on October 7.

TASHKENT -- During a visit to Kabul, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov discussed economic cooperation with the Taliban leadership and said he received "clear assurances" that the militant group will never pose any security threat to Uzbekistan.

Kamilov met separately with the acting deputy head of the Taliban-led government, Mulla Abdul Kabir, and the acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, when he visited the Afghan capital on October 7, Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid posted a video on social media showing Kamilov saying he had "received from our Afghan brothers strong and clear assurances that Afghanistan will never impose any threat or danger on Uzbekistan."

Muttaqi told reporters after his talks with Kamilov that the Taliban seeks to expand relations with Uzbekistan with a focus on economic projects.

"Talks were held with the friendly Uzbek foreign minister on electricity, railways, as well as the reconstruction of Mazar-e Sharif airport," he said.

The Taliban has sought to reassure Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan that it poses no threat after it gained control over much of the country in August.

The hard-line Islamist group's takeover has triggered alarm among neighboring Central Asian states over possible security threats emanating from the country and the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to cross the border.

According to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, the sides discussed the situation in Afghanistan, humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, and infrastructure projects in the war-torn country’s energy and transportation sectors.

The ministry statement also quoted Taliban leaders as expressing gratitude to Tashkent for calling on the international community to seek a "constructive dialogue" with Afghanistan’s new rulers and to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets held abroad.

The sides agreed to meet in the Uzbek city of Termiz, near the Afghan border, "in the nearest future" to discuss trade and economic cooperation between the two neighboring countries, it said.

This story includes reporting by Radio Azadi correspondents in Afghanistan. Their names are being withheld for their protection.