Asian leaders at economic summit vow to help Afghanistan | WGN 720 radio
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) – Leaders of several Asian countries have called for strengthening their economic ties and pledged to provide assistance to Afghanistan at a summit in Turkmenistan on Sunday.
The countries, which are part of the 10-member Economic Cooperation Organization which includes Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and six countries of the former Soviet Union, called for the removal of trade barriers and to develop new transport corridors in the region. They also voiced concerns about the situation in Afghanistan, which has been taken over by the Taliban, and pledged to help stabilize the country.
Speaking at the summit, Pakistani President Arif Alvi highlighted the threat of an economic and financial collapse in Afghanistan, saying the Islamic world must unite its efforts to help avert a “catastrophe that could foment chaos and conflicts”. He said countries in the region must act quickly to help rebuild the Afghan economy, consolidate the country’s health and education systems and offer humanitarian assistance.
He noted that the stabilization of Afghanistan would allow the implementation of long-standing infrastructure projects, including a gas pipeline, railways and power grids connecting countries in the region.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov stressed that these projects would help to offer “colossal prospects for cooperation and help attract foreign investment”, greatly benefiting Afghanistan and its neighbors.
Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan stressed the importance of rebuilding the Afghan economy, saying the country’s collapse could trigger a mass exodus of refugees that would affect the entire region. He said that Turkish humanitarian groups have stepped up their efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has also offered to help, saying Afghanistan is in desperate need of food, fuel and financial aid as winter approaches.
On the sidelines of the summit, Azerbaijani, Iranian and Turkmen officials signed a trilateral agreement on natural gas deliveries from gas-rich Turkmenistan to Iran and Azerbaijan.
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