Taliban, Uzbekistan discuss border security, economic ties

Yaqub Mujahid, the Taliban’s defense minister, met with Abdusalom Azizov, head of Uzbekistan’s State Security Service, to discuss border security and economic and transit cooperation.

Mujahid emphasized the need for stronger border control between the two countries. He assured Uzbekistan that Afghanistan would protect Uzbek development projects and investments within its borders.

Uzbekistan is concerned about the presence of Uzbek militants, like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Imam Bukhari Battalion, in northern Afghanistan. The country maintained relations with the Taliban during the previous Afghan government and expects the Taliban to restrain the activities of foreign militant groups in Afghanistan, a commitment the Taliban has made to its neighbors.

“We have done significant work on the country’s borders over the past year and are determined to strengthen them further,” Mujahid said.

While Uzbekistan has not officially recognized the Taliban government, it continues to engage in trade and political relations with them. This interaction persists despite Uzbekistan’s criticism of the Taliban’s construction of the Qosh Tepa water canal.

In 2022, the Taliban announced the construction of the Qosh Tepa Canal, valued at over seven billion Afghanis. This project, diverting water from the Amu Darya River to northern Afghan provinces, has raised concerns in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Uzbekistan’s President warned in September about the canal’s potential impact on the region’s water balance.