TASHKENT: President Mamnoon Hussain and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov met on Friday at the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and agreed to strengthen bilateral relations particularly in the areas of trade and connectivity.

The Pakistan and Uzbek heads of state agreed to raise the volume of bilateral trade to 300 million dollars in three years. President Mamnoon said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor would be beneficial for the entire region including Central Asian states. The President also offered Uzbekistan the use of Pakistani ports and said that Pakistan valued its diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan.

The President said Pakistan and Uzbekistan needed to collaborate closely in the fields of energy and trade due to their geographical proximity.

He went on to say that Pakistan wanted to resolve all outstanding issues with neighboring India. Commenting on Afghanistan, the president said a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was imperative for peace in the region.

Mamnoon Hussain congratulated the Uzbek President on successfully holding the SCO Summit and thanked him for extending his support for Pakistan’s inclusion in the regional bloc. He also invited his Uzbek counterpart to visit Pakistan, an invitation which was reportedly accepted.

Speaking on the occasion, the Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that the countries of the region could overcome the menaces of extremism, terrorism, and narcotics through mutual cooperation.

He expressed a desire to cooperate with Pakistan in various sectors, including economy, trade, and defense. He said granting Pakistan full membership of SCO would auger well for regional peace, stability and prosperity. President Karimov wished Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif the best of health following his surgery.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and Pakistan’s ambassador Riaz Bukhari were also present during the meeting.