13th ECO summit begins in Islamabad with regional bigwigs

09:13 AM | 1 Mar, 2017
13th ECO summit begins in Islamabad with regional bigwigs
ISLAMABAD - The 13th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit will begin in Islamabad today (Wednesday) with representatives from nine countries.

The summit would be attended by heads of states/governments and representatives from Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

A rousing welcome was given to president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, p resident of Iran Hassan Rouhani, Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, president of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and prime minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov who reached Islamabad on Tuesday.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada and high officials received the dignitaries at the Noor Khan Airbase.

Security has already been beefed up in capital and government has announced a public holiday in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as a part of the security plan for summit.

Ahead of ECO summit, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressed his confidence that the Economic Cooperation Organization would soon develop into a key regional economic bloc.

'Synergizing our strengths, we can soon change our region’s destiny. The way forward for us has been laid out in ECO Vision 2025 in the form of pragmatic and tangible organisational targets,' the prime minister said in his video message.

President Mamnoon Hussain also hosted a state banquet in honour of heads of states/governments participating in the summit at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was present on the occasion.

Pakistan last hosted the third ECO Summit in Islamabad in May 1995 and hosting the 13th summit would send a strong message to international community regarding regional importance of the country.

ECO was established in 1985 by Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Later on, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and  Tajikistan were also included.