PM’s Uzbekistan visit a step forward to enhance regional connectivity, trade

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 22 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s two-day official visit to Uzbekistan is an important milestone towards execution of his dream to enhance regional connectivity and trade with the strategically located Central Asian states.
The Prime Minister, who visited the doubly landlocked country at the invitation of Uzbek President, Islam Karimov from November 17 to 18, along with his high level delegation including his National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Nasser Janjua, Special Assistant on
Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Special Assistant on Aviation Shujaat Azim and other senior officials.The Prime Minister’s visit to Uzbekistan is reflective of this high priority and broader commitment to further deepen Pakistan’s engagement with Central Asia.
During his interaction, with the Uzbek leadership including President Karimov and Prime Minister Shavkat Aziziyayev, the Prime Minister emphasized the enhancement of bilateral trade what he observed was far below the existing potential.
He said the launch of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),
connecting Central Asia with our port facilities and our accession
to TIR convention and WTO trade facilitation agreement should all
help in better integrating the region.
The Prime Minister said CPEC would provide new opportunities
for enhanced connectivity and integration from Gwadar to Kashgar,
and provide a road link with Uzbekistan through other Central Asian
states.
He said his government was keen to enhance connectivity in the
region and wanted to increase cooperation with Uzbekistan.
He thanked Uzbekistan for its support to Pakistan’s bid for
full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
In his address at the banquet, hosted by Uzbek President
Karimov in his honour, the Prime Minister said establishment of
peace in Afghanistan was inevitable for peace and stability in the
region.
Nawaz Sharif reiterated that his government wanted to maintain
good ties with all countries, including India and Afghanistan.
He said operation Zarb-e-Azb against extremism and terrorism
was coming to fruition as law and order situation was improving due
to the efforts of the law enforcement agencies.
Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistani ports offered the
shortest land route to Uzbekistan for access to the Arabian Sea and
unique geographical locations of Pakistan and Uzbekistan were
mutually advantageous for the two countries.
Both the countries inked a joint communique and several
memorandums of understanding to strengthen bilateral cooperation,
avoid double taxation and enhance collaboration in many areas.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Trade
Development Authority and the Uzbek ministry of economic affairs and
investment to enhance bilateral trade.
Tariq Fatemi and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov
signed a protocol to enhance cooperation between the foreign affairs
ministries of the two countries.
A protocol for establishing an inter-government arrangement to
avoid double taxation was also signed.
Both the brotherly countries agreed to strengthen their ties
by enhancing trade and improving connectivity in the region.
The two sides believed that regional challenges could be
tackled only through coordinated and concerted efforts.
Leaders of the two countries reviewed the evolving regional
peace and security scenario and discussed ways in which the two
countries can work together and better coordinate to confront
terrorist threats in the region.
President Karmiov lauded the statesmanship of Nawaz Sharif and
said Pakistan was playing a key role for peace and stability in the
region.
He appreciated Pakistan’s policy of pursuing peace and
stability and regional connectivity. He also noted its road-map of
enhancing trade and business ties with the Central Asian Republics.
Uzbek leadership said Pakistan enjoyed a status of important
state in the Muslim world as well as the region besides for its role
on international issues.
The two sides believed that regional challenges could be
tackled only through coordinated and concerted efforts.