The FINANCIAL — Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has visited Uzbekistan’s western region of Khorezm, which neighbors Turkmenistan, on the last day of his official visit.
Berdymukhammedov met with representatives of the Turkmen diaspora in the region on April 24, and visited the House of Uzbek-Turkmen Friendship, which was recently constructed at the behest of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev, according to RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service.
The two presidents also laid flowers at a monument to the founder of Turkmen national poetry, Mahtumkuli, which was recently erected in the region.
Berdymukhammedov began the trip — part of a surge in diplomatic activity in Central Asia since the death of longtime Uzbek leader Islam Karimov in 2016 — with a visit to the Uzbek capital on April 23.
Mirziyoev told journalists following the two presidents’ talks that Tashkent is ready to take part in the construction of the planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural-gas pipeline.
“Uzbekistan will find ways to take part in the TAPI project,” Mirziyoev said, adding that the pipeline’s construction will add to efforts to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan.
Economically struggling Turkmenistan hopes the pipeline will be built after years of discussion, bringing in revenues for the natural gas the country produces.
Berdymukhammedov last visited Uzbekistan in September 2016 for the funeral of Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan with iron fist for more than a quarter of a century and was often at odds with other Central Asian leaders.
Mirziyoev has said improving ties with Uzbekistan’s neighbors is a major priority. He traveled to Turkmenistan in March 2017 in his first official visit abroad as president.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the only former Soviet republics in Central Asia that are not members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization that consists of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.