On Thursday October 7, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov heading a government delegation arrived in the Afghan capital for discussions.

Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement.

Kamilov reportedly met Deputy Prime Ministers Mullah Abdul Kabir Abdul Salam Hanafi, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Alhaj Hamidullah Akhundzada, Minister of Energy and Water Abdul Latif Mansour, and Minister of Public Works and Abdul Manan Omari.

The sides discussed the current situation in the country, efforts to provide humanitarian and other aid to the people of Afghanistan as well as implementation of large energy and transportation development projects in Afghanistan. 

Uzbek Foreign Ministry says “Members of the interim government of Afghanistan expressed sincere gratitude to President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev for the huge attention to the aspirations of the Afghan people and invaluable humanitarian aid [sent] with the aim of preventing a large-scale food crisis.”

The Afghan leadership “gave a high assessment” to Mirziyoyev for aiming “to build constructive and mutually acceptable dialogue with the new authorities of Afghanistan.”

The government also thanked Uzbekistan for the “uninterrupted functioning” of the border with Afghanistan to allow food and other essential supplies across, and commended Mirziyoyev for calling on the international community last month to unfreeze Afghan assets in foreign banks.

Discussions with Taliban officials will continue in Uzbekistan’s border city of Termez in the near future to discuss trade and economic cooperation, with two main projects on the agenda: construction of the Surkhan – Pul-e Khumri power transmission line and the Mazar-e Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar railway, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said.  

The Afghan side reportedly expressed readiness to assure the security of Uzbekistani specialists working on these projects.   

Meanwhile, Eurasianet says analysts have pointed out that the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has put the viability of this difficult project in jeopardy owing to security concerns and questions over funding.

An assurance during Kamilov’s visit of the Taliban’s “readiness to assure the security of Uzbekistani specialists” working on these projects is unlikely to assuage these concerns.

For Uzbekistan, pragmatism is paramount in its relations with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Ravshan Nazarov, an historian specializing in Central Asian affairs, told Eurasianet.

“Of course the Taliban regime does not give rise to any illusions among serious experts and analysts, but practical policy requires reaching agreement with those who are in power currently.”