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12th ECO summit opens in Baku; Zardari represents Pakistan

October 16, 2012

President Asif Ali Zardari. — Photo by Reuters/File

BAKU: The 12th summit of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) is opening here on Tuesday with leaders from ten member states participating, including Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.

President Zardari is representing Pakistan at the ECO summit and will also address the gathering on Tuesday.

During the visit President Zardari would hold meetings with Azerbaijan's leadership and representatives of other ECO member countries on the sidelines of the summit.

Moreover, representatives from the ECO Secretariat, ECO subsidiary organs and a number of international organisations are also attending the meetings.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has already reached here and participating in the 20th Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) being held here Monday.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also held meetings with her Azeri, Turkish, Iranian and Afghan counterparts and discussed mutual and regional issue.

The COM meeting accounts for the reports of the ECO and its institutions on progress achieved in the main activity area of the ECO that focus among other issues, on transport, trade, energy, environment and agriculture covering the period 2011-2012.

The meeting will adopt substantial decisions on the new initiatives and activities reflected in the Work Program planned for 2012-13.

Participation of the ECO and its regional bodies and institutions as well as broad international community is expected.

The mentioned meetings will be concluded by the October 16 summit of the heads of state of the ECO, which will mark nearly two decades of sustainable functioning of the regional organization, second largest in the world.

A Baku Declaration outlining the vision and guidance for the organization will be issued at the end of the summit.

The ECO is an intergovernmental organization involving seven Asian and three Eurasian nations, part of the South-central Asian Union.

It provides a platform to discuss ways to improve development and promote trade, and investment opportunities. The common objective is to establish a single market for goods and services, much like the European Union.

The ECO's secretariat and cultural department are located in Tehran, its economic bureau is in Turkey and its scientific bureau is situated in Pakistan.

The organization was founded by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan in 1985. In 1992, the ECO expanded to include seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.