Uzbek president urges ‘Afghanistan’s involvement’ in regional integration at ECO summit

Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Friday emphasized “Afghanistan’s role” in regional integration processes during his address at the 16th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit in Tashkent.

Taliban representatives were not invited to the event.

“I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that today’s summit is taking place without the participation of Afghanistan, one of the members of our Organization. We cannot allow the multi-ethnic people of Afghanistan, who have been our closest neighbors for centuries, to be left alone with the current complex problems. The active involvement of this country in regional integration processes is an indispensable and necessary condition for our sustainable development,” the Uzbek president said.

Mirziyoyev further called on the international community to step up humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and address the socio-economic challenges facing the country.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid expressed dissatisfaction, asserting that their representatives should have been invited to the ECO summit held on November 9 in Tashkent.

While Afghanistan holds membership in the ECO, the press secretary of the President of Uzbekistan, Sherzod Asadov, previously stated that representatives from Kabul were excluded from the summit. This decision stems from the fact that the current interim Afghan government lacks recognition from the international community.

Established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, the Economic Cooperation Organization is a regional interstate economic structure that encompasses Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The organization’s permanent secretariat is headquartered in Tehran.