ADB Commends Uzbekistan for Promoting Central Asia Regional Cooperation

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda on Tuesday praised Uzbekistan for its strong support for regional cooperation, saying that improved trade and transport links will help Central Asia reap the benefits of its strategic location.

"I am pleased that Uzbekistan strongly supports regional cooperation, which is quickly gaining momentum," Mr. Kuroda said in a speech to diplomats and representatives of multilateral development institutions in Tashkent. "By further strengthening this thrust, Central Asian countries ultimately contribute to a larger vision of a truly integrated and globally connected Asia – seamlessly connected and working in common purpose."

Mr. Kuroda cited Uzbekistan's role in supplying electricity to the capital of neighboring Afghanistan as an example of Tashkent's bid to boost regional ties.

"This critically important project achieved what once seemed out of reach: a steady supply of electricity to Kabul," said Mr. Kuroda. "The project, which underscores Uzbekistan's crucial role in the region, has benefited 4 million people and laid the foundation for a network to reach many other parts of Afghanistan that are still without access to electricity."

ADB is also funding construction of a 75-kilometer rail line that connects Uzbekistan with Mazar-e-Sharif, the second largest city in Afghanistan. The new line will form a key trade corridor between the two countries.

Mr. Kuroda is in Uzbekistan as part of final preparations for ADB's 43rd Annual Meeting, which takes place in Tashkent from May 1-4. Early on Tuesday, Mr. Kuroda visited the Annual Meeting venues including the International Forums Palace "Uzbekistan", Uzexpocentre Complex, and the International Trade Center and met with senior Uzbekistan government officials including President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov and First Deputy Prime Minister, Rustam Azimov.

At the Annual Meeting, ADB officials, government leaders and private sector experts will participate in a series of seminars dedicated to key issues such as ADB's role in a new post-2012 financial architecture designed to combat climate change; reform of the global monetary system; and inclusive growth through social protection.

Media registration for the 2010 Annual Meeting has started and will remain open until 19 April. Members of the media can apply for registration at ammedia@adb.org. A fully-equipped Media Center will be set up to accommodate over 100 journalists.