Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the US have formed a new diplomatic platform to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and foster regional trade and business ties, according to a Foreign Office (FO) statement.
"Representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.
"The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing," said the FO statement.
It added that the countries had recognised the "historic opportunity to open flourishing international trade routes" and intended to cooperate on expanding trade, building transit links and strengthening business-to-business ties.
"The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus," said the FO statement.
The US State Department also issued the same statement and said on Twitter that it looked forward to partnering with the three countries for regional cooperation, terming it a "cornerstone to a sustained peace".
The development came during the international conference on "Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities" in Uzbekistan.
The conference had originally been intended to discuss building better transportation links across Central and South Asia, but that agenda was trumped by the Taliban advances. Participants gathering in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent traded stinging criticisms and engaged in finger-pointing over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
Additional input from AP.