Uzbekistan, a country in the center of the ancient Silk Road, is actively cooperating with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, said Khatamjon Ketmonov, the president of one of the largest parties in the Central Asian country.
Ketmonov, chairman of the Central Council of the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan and deputy speaker of the legislative chamber of the Supreme Assembly of the Republic of Uzbekistan, said Uzbekistan played one of the most important roles in the ancient Silk Road, as it is located in the center of the road, geographically.
Uzbekistan used to be a key participatant in the ancient Silk Road hundreds of years ago, and some of its old cities, such as Samarkand and Bukhara, were important cities for the merchant caravans on the road.
"Therefore, when the Belt and Road Initiative was first raised by President Xi Jinping in 2013 we saw it as a continuation of the development of economic, trade and cultural relations to the ancient route, and it is an effective mechanism for bilateral and multilateral cooperation among countries in both Asia and Europe," he said.
Ketmonov told China Daily that the country responded to China's initiative immediately, and signed agreements with the Chinese government, including investment and infrastructure construction for the initiative.
"Not only for us," he said, "but for all the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, a great opportunity is opened to them for economic, scientific and technical cooperation as well as people to people exchanges at a higher-level, which will encourage economic development, and will undoubtedly help improve the welfare of people, strengthening peace and sustainable development for the countries."
Ketmonov participated the 2nd China-Central Asia Political Party Forum, a meeting in conjunction with the Communist Party of China in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting.
And he was impressed by the development of China, and highly values the chance to have close communications with senior officials of the CPC.
Ketmonov said Uzbek political parities wanted to learn from the CPC about national and party governance, and the forum provided them the opportunity to discuss the development of mutual interests, and the potential new model for international cooperation.
The Uzbek Ambassador Bakhtiyor Saidov said the country paid a great deal of attention to the dialogue led by CPC, and there are delegations from five major Uzbek parties participating in the event - the People's Democratic Party, the Justice Social Democratic Party, the National Revival Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan.
Saidov said China has been one of the most important investment partners of the country, as the total investment volume reached $8 billion since Uzbekistan declared independence 25 years ago.
"In 2016 bilateral trade volume of the two countries exceeded $4 billion, and the number is expected to be $5 billion this year."
"On one hand, both governments are ready to inject strong power into the win-win cooperation between China and Uzbekistan; on the other hand it shows great potential for deepening and enlarging our comprehensive strategic partnership," the ambassador said.
Ketmonov added: "We believe participating in the Belt and Road Initiative meets the priority of our five-year development strategy for Uzbekistan 2017-2021 raised by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev."