Uzbekistan, Afghanistan join efforts against terrorism

By Maksim Yeniseyev

Acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyaev inspects a border outpost on the border with Afghanistan October 11. [Screenshot from the state TV channel Uzbekistan, obtained by Maksim Yeniseyev]

Acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyaev inspects a border outpost on the border with Afghanistan October 11. [Screenshot from the state TV channel Uzbekistan, obtained by Maksim Yeniseyev]

TASHKENT -- Positive prospects that establishing peace in Afghanistan will open up for the region, Uzbek Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelaziz Kamilov said, while speaking before General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) September 23.

"Peace in Afghanistan will give all the tangible benefits [to UN countries], and will permit people to think of Afghanistan not as a source of threat and instability, but as a source of new opportunities. Armed conflict can be resolved exclusively through negotiation, which the UN should play an active part in," Kamilov said.

Soon after the UN General Assembly, October 4, Kamilov met with the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani in Brussels. The two sides discussed bilateral relations and welcomed the revitalisation of contact to reinforce security and friendship, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry public affairs office reported.

Uzbek citizens fighting in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, illegal armed gangs continue to operate, with some Uzbek citizens among them. However, Afghan officials claim security forces are successfully destroying them.

"On September 27, several hundred Taliban fighters attempted an attack in the northern province of Badakhshan. They attacked facilities used by security forces in Jurm District. They managed to repel the attack. Among the dead militants they discovered three Tajik citizens and five citizens of Uzbekistan," the Afghan Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.

It is possible that these Uzbek citizens who died had previously been fighters for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), officials said. The group declared in August its severed relations with ISIL, and expressed solidarity with the Taliban.

Strengthening the border security

The Acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyaev October 11 examined various infrastructure facilities in southern Surkhandarya Province, and inspected the southern border of Uzbekistan, which adjoins Afghanistan. He checked the combat readiness of troop units to repulse attacks by extremists and illegal border crossers.

The president discussed measures for strengthening security on the national border and announced that two countries would sign new agreements on co-operation.

"I hope that soon the representatives from the [Uzbek] Ministry of Foreign Affairs will visit Afghanistan, and that we will sign large-scale agreements there aimed at developing co-operation. We need to comprehensively strengthen relations with the people of Afghanistan on all fronts, to do everything possible to maintain peace and tranquility," Mirziyaev told journalists while visiting the southern border of Uzbekistan.

Joint economic projects to return peace in the region

Besides the border, which is a barrier to extremists and terrorists penetrating the countries of Central Asia, Mirziyaev visited a new international logistics centre located near Termez.

"One of the main problems in the world is finding markets. Each country makes great efforts to promote its own products ... The new centre will serve to establish trade with Afghanistan and developing the export capacity [of both countries]," he said.

"Infrastructure projects that Uzbekistan runs in Afghanistan promote the establishment of a peaceful life," said Valeriy Khan, an Uzbek political analyst.

"The lively and safe city of Mazar-i-Sharifi, where the railway laid down from Uzbekistan goes, is proof of that," he said. "There are no bombs going off there, but there is brisk international trade going on. In order to stop people from joining the ranks of the extremists, it is necessary for their standard of living to grow."

Earlier, Afghan mass media reported that the first freight train with goods from East Asian countries arrived in Mazar-i-Sharif by railway September 8, along the Silk Road line. It successfully wended its way through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

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