German foreign minister starts Central Asia tour in Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is also the chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is visiting Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan from 29 March to 1 April and holding talks with the countries’ political leaders in all three capitals. Steinmeier is also meeting representatives of civil society in the Central Asian countries, the German Foreign Ministry said.

Steinmeier held talks with his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulaziz Kamilov, in Tashkent on March 30. The ministers discussed Uzbek-German bilateral ties, regional and international issues, and the OSCE’s involvement in social and political developments in the region.

In addition to bilateral relations, the focus of Steinmeier’s talks in the three land-locked Central Asian countries is on the fight against terrorism, regional cooperation and economic connectivity in the OSCE area. As OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Steinmeier also wants to learn more about the OSCE’s wide-ranging work in Central Asia.

“I see great potential as regards strengthening and expanding our social, cultural and economic relations with the countries of Central Asia. This is why it is so important that Germany and the OSCE are active in the region,” he said.

In the run-up to his trip to Central Asia, Steinmeier underlined the region’s strategic importance: “Mostly overshadowed by international events, this is where the interests of the large regional powers – Russia, China and Iran – clash. There are huge business opportunities and significant threats to stability, which should be anything but a matter of indifference to us.”

Sergey Kwan

TCA