ECO leaders in Pakistan push for economic ties

Islamabad, March 1 (IANS) Leaders of the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) on Wednesday pledged to work for enhanced cooperation in various fields including energy, highways and tourism.

The leaders adopted the Islamabad Declaration and the ECO Vision 2025 at the 13th summit of the ECO, highlighting the group’s “pragmatic and tangible organizational targets”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ECO groups Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Addressing the summit, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the grouping would be able to take longer strides in advancing the programmes and activities of the organization with more understanding among the heads of states and governments.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for early completion of reforms in ECO, strengthening of human resource of the ECO Secretariat and a evolution of a mechanism for ownership of projects.

He stressed on cooperation in energy and said his country would support all initiatives aimed at realization of this objective.

He also urged the need for resolution of political disputes and joint efforts to tackle the menace of terrorism.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid emphasis on greater connectivity and trade links between the member countries.

“The ECO region is rich in resources and capabilities. It is time to make momentous advancements,” he said.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov told the summit that construction work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline had been started.

The implementation of this project was being realized with the participation of ECO member states, he said.

ECO Secretary General Halil Ibrahim told the delegates that the population of ECO region had reached 471 million and its GDP had crossed $1 trillion.

He said intra-trade of the region had improved to 8.7 per cent in 2015 from 5.3 per cent in 2000, Xinhua reported.

The summit, which took place after a gap of five years, coincided with the 25th anniversary of the expansion of the bloc established in 1985.