Photo: Office of the Taliban Prime Minister via X

Uzbekistan Wants to Invest in Afghanistan’s Mining and Energy Sectors

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Uzbekistan’s delegation, led by Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov, expressed their country’s willingness to invest in cement production, coal extraction, and electricity infrastructure in Afghanistan.

According to a statement from the office of the Taliban Prime Minister, during a meeting with Mullah Hassan Akhund, The Taliban Prime Minister, Mr. Saidov expressed his country’s interest in investing in a cement factory, coal extraction, and generating 200 megawatts of electricity from coal.

During their visit to Kabul today, the Uzbekistan delegation met with several Taliban officials, including Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi, the Deputy Prime Ministers of the Taliban, and Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban Foreign Minister.

According to the Taliban statement, the Uzbekistan Foreign Minister also conveyed his country’s desire to share its expertise in implementing economic and agricultural projects with the regime in Afghanistan.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Uzbekistan was one of the few neighboring countries to maintain relations with the Taliban-led government without officially recognizing it. Uzbekistan also kept its embassy in Kabul open.

Uzbekistan officials and Taliban leaders held meetings in the months leading up to the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. After the Taliban took power, they quickly reached business agreements, and the Taliban pledged that Afghanistan territory would never be used to launch an attack on a neighboring country.

In October last year, the country signed export-import agreements totaling approximately $1.2 billion with the regime in Kabul, aiming to reach $3 billion in the future. These agreements were formalized during a visit by a high-level delegation led by the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, Jamshid Khodjayev.

Bilateral ties with Afghanistan are not without hurdles for Uzbekistan. Tashkent has repeatedly criticized the construction of the Qosh Tepa canal in Afghanistan that diverts water from the Amu Darya for irrigation purposes in northern Afghanistan.

However, according to the statement, the Taliban Prime Minister reassured that the regime will not violate Uzbekistan’s rights to the Qosh Tepa Canal, and thus the country should not be worried about it.

The office of the Taliban Prime Minister also indicated that both parties discussed the commencement of the Trans-Afghan Railway project, with the Taliban authorities urging Uzbekistan to initiate the ambitious project, which will connect Uzbekistan and Pakistan through Afghanistan’s territory.

The 760km railway will pass through Termiz in Uzbekistan, Mazar-i-Sharif and Logar in Afghanistan, and culminate in Pakistan via the Kharlachi border crossing in Kurram.

According to the statement, the Taliban Prime Minister expressed appreciation for Uzbekistan’s support and for maintaining good relations with the regime in Kabul, expressing hope that this relationship will further strengthen in the future.