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UK Minister Visits Uzbekistan to Build on Bilateral Relations

In a significant move to strengthen diplomatic ties and foster cooperation, the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Leo Docherty, visited Uzbekistan from June 6 to 7, 2023. The visit aimed at building on the existing bilateral relations between the two nations in trade, security, defence, and other areas. It comes as part of the UK government’s commitment to enhancing partnerships in the Central Asian region.

Upon his arrival in the capital city of Tashkent, Docherty was warmly welcomed by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Gayrat Fazilov. The ministers engaged in discussions on various aspects of mutual interest, ranging from trade and investment to security cooperation and cultural exchanges. This visit marked an essential step towards deepening the longstanding diplomatic relationship between the UK and Uzbekistan. They also discussed bilateral relations, the domestic reform agenda, and key foreign policy and security issues. One of the key areas of focus during Docherty’s visit was to explore avenues for expanding bilateral trade and investment. The UK has long recognized the economic potential of Uzbekistan, particularly in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and agriculture.

Docherty also met the Deputy Minister of Investments, Industry, and Trade, Badriddin Abidov, to discuss bilateral trade and investments. They also discussed how to extend the UK’s support for Uzbekistan’s succession to the WTO and their work through the ‘Effective Governance for Economic Development’ programme. In this regard, the minister highlighted the importance of the recently signed Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which serves as a solid foundation for strengthening economic ties. He expressed the UK’s commitment to supporting Uzbekistan’s economic reforms and highlighted the potential benefits of increased trade between the two nations.

Another significant aspect of the visit was the focus on security cooperation. Uzbekistan has been a key partner for the UK in the fight against terrorism and regional stability. Minister Docherty commended Uzbekistan’s efforts in countering terrorism and expressed the UK’s willingness to further enhance cooperation in areas such as intelligence sharing, law enforcement, and border security.

Cultural exchange and educational collaboration were also emphasized during the visit. The ministers discussed the importance of promoting people-to-people contacts and fostering academic ties between educational institutions in both countries. He also visited the Applied Arts Museum to understand the culture and history of Uzbekistan, after which he met the British Council Director, Denise Waddingham, in Uzbekistan.

The visit of Minister Docherty to Uzbekistan has undoubtedly laid the groundwork for a deeper and more comprehensive partnership. It has not only strengthened political and economic ties but also emphasized the importance of mutual understanding and cultural exchange. As both countries look towards the future, this visit marks a milestone in their journey towards closer cooperation and friendship. It was also a celebration of 31 years of diplomatic ties, as Uzbekistan is an important partner for the UK.