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Aloev to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Are Establishing New Form of Partnership between Central Asia, GCC

Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Bakhromjon Aloev characterized the inaugural Gulf-Central Asia summit scheduled for Wednesday as a momentous occasion, referring to it as “historic” and emphasizing that it represents a fresh paradigm for regional collaboration between two highly significant regions in the world, both in terms of geopolitical and economic geography.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Aloev affirmed that the collaboration between Central Asian countries and Arab Gulf states holds strategic importance given the challenging international landscape.

“The symbolism of holding this event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is profound, given the Kingdom’s unique role in the region and the broader Arab and Islamic world,” he added.

He pointed out that enhancing the existing relations between both sides in the current circumstances serves the long-term interests of both regions.

“The new framework we are building is designed to intensify dialogue and partnership between the Gulf region and Central Asia, enriching cooperation through practical programs and projects,” said Aloev.

“It aims to establish an open and effective system for regional relations and enhance multi-party partnerships,” he explained.

The official also urged the development of mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of political consultations and dialogues with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

He emphasized the need to explore new avenues for collaboration in the realms of economy, trade, logistics, and transportation.

Additionally, he highlighted the potential of all parties involved to achieve progressive development, bolster strategic security, and enhance stability.

The official underscored that the development of his country’s relations with Saudi Arabia stands at the forefront of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy priorities.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia holds significant credibility and substantial financial and economic potential, not only within the Arab and Islamic nations but across the globe.

Aloev further explained that Uzbekistan possesses abundant agricultural resources that can provide ample opportunities to diversify its exports and ensure the supply of food products to the Arab Gulf states.

Saudi-Uzbek relations

Aloev stressed the importance his country places on the gradual and dynamic development of comprehensive relations with the Middle East.

He highlighted that these relations are built on historical and cultural ties, while also taking into consideration the contemporary transformations occurring in this region, which is geographically close to Uzbekistan.

“Developing relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands as one of the primary objectives of Uzbekistan’s newly shaped foreign policy,” confirmed Aloev.

“The Kingdom holds significant importance as a strategic partner for Uzbekistan, boasting great credibility and vast financial and economic resources not only within the Arab and Islamic nations but also on a global scale,” he added.

“The inaugural state visit of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Saudi Arabia in August 2022 undeniably ushered in a new chapter in bilateral relations,” noted Aloev.

“The discussions between President Mirziyoyev and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showcased a clear alignment of perspectives and shared aspirations between the two nations,” he remarked.

Aloev emphasized Mirziyoyev’s post-visit statements, in which he characterized the historic Uzbek-Saudi meeting as a powerful signal to enhance cooperation and strengthen trade relations.

The visit resulted in the signing of agreements and contracts worth over $14 billion, spanning diverse sectors, such as energy, chemicals, electrical engineering, infrastructure development, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and transportation.

Aloev further explained that both countries hold substantial untapped potential to expand trade soon, a process made smoother through reciprocal visits by business delegates. The primary impetus for these exchanges stemmed from the successful outcomes of the Uzbek-Saudi summit held in Jeddah the previous year.

Additionally, the deputy foreign minister disclosed a remarkable 4.2-fold increase in the number of companies operating in Uzbekistan with Saudi investments over the past five years.

Moreover, he shared significant figures, revealing that in 2022, more than 58,000 Uzbek citizens traveled to Saudi Arabia for Umrah, while 15,000 performed the Hajj in 2023.

Saudi-Uzbek regional, international coordination

Aloev highlighted the successful cooperation between Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia in political and international affairs, characterized by consistent mutual support within various regional and international organizations, including the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Additionally, he emphasized Uzbekistan’s willingness to back Riyadh’s bid to host the prestigious Expo 2030 world exhibition. Moreover, Uzbekistan has played a supportive role in Saudi Arabia’s recognition as a “Dialogue Partner” within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Aloev acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s affirmative votes for Uzbekistan’s initiatives and joint sponsorship of the UN General Assembly resolution on “Education and Religious Tolerance” in 2019.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia lent its support to Uzbekistan’s nomination to the UN Human Rights Council in 2020.

In other instances of bilateral cooperation, Saudi Arabia also voted in favor of hosting the 25th session of the World Tourism Organization in Samarkand in 2022.

Aloev went on to mention that “following a high-level visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2022, an exemption from visa requirements for Saudi Arabian citizens entering Uzbekistan was introduced.”

Source : Asharq AL-Awsat