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Uzbek, Turkmen Presidents Agree To Cooperation On Energy, Transportation, Security

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev (left) and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (right)

The presidents of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan say they have agreed on closer cooperation between their countries on energy and transportation projects that could also involve Afghanistan, Pakistan, and countries in the South Caucasus.

The two leaders also have signed a treaty on strategic cooperation between their countries.

The developments came during a March 6 visit to Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyaev.

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said he and Mirziyaev had agreed to cooperation on the export of electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Berdymukhammedov said it also was possible for their countries to work together to develop trans-Caspian transport routes to the South Caucasus and further on to Europe.

Mirziyaev's meeting with Berdymukhamedov at the Oguzhan presidential palace in Ashgabat came on the first day of Mirziyaev's first official foreign visit since he was elected in December to succeed Uzbekistan's long-time ruler Islam Karimov, whose death was announced in early September.

State media in the two tightly controlled Central Asian countries reported that other issues on the agenda of the talks between the two leaders included additional details about bilateral relations.

The strategic cooperation agreement they signed on March 6 is aimed at increasing cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Islamic extremism, and cross-border crime -- including illegal drug trafficking.

In a joint statement, they expressed the shared view that a settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan is "possible only through peaceful, political means on the basis of a broad national dialogue."

The statement also said both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan favor "active international support to the Afghan government and promotion of Afghanistan's integration into regional and international economic processes."

During his two-day visit, Mirziyaev is also expected to visit the eastern city of Turkmenabat, along the Turkmen-Uzbek border, to attend the opening ceremony of a memorial complex honoring the late Karimov.

Mirziyaev, prime minister for 13 years, became Uzbekistan's acting president after Karimov's death was announced in September 2016.

Mirziyaev has talked of improving ties with the other former Soviet republics in Central Asia, and has taken some steps in that direction.

His visit to Turkmenistan comes a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan on a Central Asia trip that bypassed Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

With reporting AP and Interfax