EFENur-Sultan

The foreign ministers of the five Central Asian countries met here Wednesday with US Under Secretary of State David Hale to discuss security and cooperation under the C5+1 framework.

"At today's meeting we will dedicate the first part to economic security. The second part, to peace in Afghanistan. In the third part we will discuss security in Central Asia," Kazakh Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov said at the start of the talks in Nur-Sultan.

Joining Hale and Atamkulov for the discussions were the foreign ministers of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Atamkulov stressed that the US strategy for cooperation with Central Asia, aimed at supporting intra-regional relations, transport corridors, infrastructure projects and collective security, "fully coincides with the interests" of the C5 nations, whose neighbors include China, Iran, Russia and Afghanistan.

The region is experiencing a "rebirth," Atamkulov said, highlighting significant progress in cooperation with Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous country.

"In recent years, in the framework of the C5+1 format, a great effort has been made to develop transport corridors, reduce trade barriers, develop cross-border trade and take goods produced in Central Asia to foreign markets," he added.

The C5+1 format was created in November 2015 to address common security and environmental problems, improve the regional economy and facilitate US trade and investments in Central Asia.

The State Department says that after the meeting in Kazakhstan, Hale will travel to the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, where he will offer support for President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's reform program and advocate greater bilateral cooperation in security, education and commerce. EFE

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