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Uzbekistan Holds Talks With Taliban On Trade, Energy, Railway Projects


Acting Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi (file photo)

Uzbek officials have met with representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government to discuss cooperation in trade, border security, and humanitarian aid, Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry said.

The Taliban delegation -- led by the hard-line Islamist group's acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi -- arrived for the talks in the Uzbek border town of Termez on October 16. The Uzbek delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umurzakov, who also is the Central Asian country’s investments and foreign trade minister.

The discussions included "issues of trade and economic interaction, ensuring border security, cooperation in the field of energy, international cargo transportation, and transit,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The construction of a railway connecting Termez to the Pakistani city of Peshawar via Afghanistan’s Mazar-e Sharif and the capital, Kabul, was also high on the agenda of the meeting, the statement said.

The TOLOnews agency quoted Hanafi as saying that the Taliban delegation included officials from the ministries of economy, trade, higher education, public health, and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, as well as a number of businessmen.

The delegation returned to Kabul on the same day.

The meeting comes as the new rulers of Afghanistan are seeking diplomatic recognition as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster, after they returned to power in August following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Last month, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev told the UN General Assembly in New York that his country has resumed the supply of oil and electricity to Afghanistan.

“It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the range of its problems,” Mirziyoev said.

Based on reporting by AFP and TOLOnews.com
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