A two-day international conference to discuss ways of boosting security and economic cooperation between Central Asian countries kicked off in Uzbekistan’s capital Tuesday.

The conference, themed “Interconnectivity in Central Asia: Challenges and New Opportunities,” is organised by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nation’s Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).

“The rapprochement of the countries in the Central Asian region is not against anyone’s interests,” Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said in the opening speech.

“Investing in regional cooperation contributes to developing Central Asia into a stable and prosperous region, thus making it a reliable and predictable partner,” he added.

In her opening speech, Natalia Gherman, special representative of the UN secretary-general as well as head of the UNRCCA, said that the conference will produce specific recommendations to the presidents of the Central Asian countries, who will gather in Tashkent to discuss common regional issues in April.

Foreign experts from 36 countries and representatives of leading analytical and scientific organisations in Uzbekistan exchanged views on regional security issues, as well as cooperation in trade, economic, transport, communications, environmental, humanitarian and other areas.

“Over the past five years, China has deepened cooperation with Central Asian countries in jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), yielding a series of significant early achievements,” said Qi Zhenhong, president of the China Institute of International Studies.

“The BRI has laid the groundwork for the Central Asian countries to strengthen their cooperation. At the same time, Central Asia’s efforts to remove obstacles and strengthen cooperation will also facilitate the BRI. The BRI and Central Asian efforts complement and promote each another,” he added.

The discussion for Wednesday is cooperation between Central Asia and non-regional countries.