SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan -- Central Asian states are working together -- and with the European Union (EU) -- to increase regional security and economic development, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
The foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on Friday (November 10) signed a Programme on Mutual Co-operation for 2018-2019.
The agreement, inked during the 13th annual EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, outlines initiatives the countries will undertake together to attract more investment in the region and strengthen co-operation in the fields of transportation, energy, tourism and culture.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development Neven Mimica also attended the EU-Central Asia meeting, which covered the EU's role in the region and Central Asian cooperation with international organisations.
Ahead of her visit to the region, Mogherini stressed the importance of Central Asia for the EU.
"From security to countering radicalisation and extremism, from trade to the support of civil society, the EU and the countries of the region are strong partners," she said.
"Our annual meeting gives us a chance to review what has been achieved over the past year and to look ahead to a new agenda to foster growth, security and stability in our regions, for the benefit of our citizens."
Visit to Kyrgyzstan
Mogherini and Mimica arrived in Samarkand after a visit to Bishkek, where on November 9 they met with Kyrgyzstan's President-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov, outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev and Prime Minister Sapar Isakov.
During the meeting with Kyrgyzstani officials, Mogherini "reiterated the European Union's continued support to the reform processes in the Kyrgyz Republic in the area of electoral reform, as well as in the rule of law and the reform of the judiciary", according to a statement issued by her office.
She said the EU is ready to start negotiations on a new bilateral agreement with Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reported November 9.
During the meeting in Samarkand, Mogherini said EU security experts will join the EU delegations to the five countries to assist local government efforts against terrorism.
Top concerns include preventing the radicalisation of youth, the Iranian nuclear programme and achieving stability in Afghanistan, she said.