Taliban & Uzbekistan Officials Meet to Discuss Border & Economic Cooperation

Thursday, 02/01/2024

Mullah Yaqoob, the Taliban's Defence Minister and Abdusalom Azizov, the head of Uzbekistan's State Security Service, discussed border issues along with economic and transit cooperation.

During a meeting with Azizov on Wednesday, Mullah Yaqoob stated that "more work needs to be done to strengthen the two countries' borders”.

According to the Taliban's Ministry of Defence, Mullah Yaqoob assured the Uzbek side that they would protect Uzbekistan's "development projects and investments" in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan perceives the presence of Uzbek militants in northern Afghanistan, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Imam Bukhari Battalion, as a security threat. The country had relations with the Taliban even during the previous government.

Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries hope that the Taliban will control the activities of foreign militant groups inside Afghanistan, a promise the Taliban has repeatedly made to neighbouring countries.

Mullah Yaqoob told Azizov, "We have done a lot of work on the country's borders over the past year and are determined to do more in the future to strengthen our borders."

Like other countries, Uzbekistan has not yet recognised the Taliban. Despite criticising the Taliban for constructing the Qosh Tepa water canal, the country has maintained its trade and political relations with the Taliban.

In 2022, the Taliban announced the construction of the Qosh Tepa canal in northern Afghanistan, worth more than seven billion Afghanis. The construction of this canal has faced considerable criticism and concerns from neighbouring countries, especially Uzbekistan.

The President of Uzbekistan had warned in September that the Taliban were constructing the Qosh Tepa water canal, which could fundamentally alter the water regime and balance in Central Asia.

The Qosh Tepa canal diverts part of the Amu Darya River's water to areas in the northern provinces of Balkh, Jowzjan, and Faryab provinces.

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