ISLAMABAD - The Council of Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization held its 23rd meeting in Dushanbe, a foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday.

The meeting was chaired by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of Pakistan Sartaj Aziz and was attended by the foreign ministers and representatives of the ECO member states and observers.

Sartaj Aziz handed over the Chairmanship of COM to Aslov Sirodjidin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan. ECO Secretary General Halil Ibrahim Akca represented the ECO Secretariat.

In his remarks, Aziz said that Pakistan, being a founding member and Chairman of ECO, realizes its responsibility and extends full support to the projects and initiatives of the ECO.

He also noted that Pakistan hosted numerous ECO events during its Chairmanship since the 13th ECO summit held on March 1, 2017, for the implementation of the Islamabad Declaration and the ECO Vision 2025. The vision aims at regional integration leading to free movement of goods and people.

The meeting reviewed progress made since the 22nd COM held in Islamabad on February 28, 2017.

Secretary-General Akca briefed the Council on the recent activities of the Secretariat and progress made in various fields, inter alia, trade and investment; transport and communications; agriculture and food security; energy and environment; and international relations.

The meeting also discussed the developments of the ECO since its expansion and exchanged views on the possible reforms needed for keeping pace with the evolving requirements of regional cooperation, the statement said.

Dushanbe communiqué was adopted, which reinforced the importance of regional connectivity for regional development in order to transform the ECO into a vibrant prosperous and progressive region. The meeting participants renewed their commitment to promoting regional economic integration among the ECO member states and resolved to play an active role in the realization of the organization’s aims and objectives.