The 6th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was held on 04 December 2016 in Amritsar, Republic of India. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and high-level representatives of the participating and supporting countries, as well as high level representatives of the international and regional organizations attended the Conference, which was co-chaired by Mr. Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of the Republic of India and Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
At the joint invitation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and India, ECO Secretariat attended this important event. The Conference, themed as "Addressing challenges, achieving prosperity", was jointly inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and H.E. Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In his statement at the Ministerial Conference, ECO Deputy Secretary General Mr. Kanan Nazarov highlighted that Ministerial Conferences are the most important mechanism to take stock of achievements and work together in charting the future course of action in realizing the collective objective of a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. He added that Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO is a very important milestone helping its integration with the global trade system and it will put Afghanistan in a favourable environment to take benefit from the economic advantages of international trade. He encouraged Afghanistan to take benefit of the trade finance and infrastructure development schemes offered by the ECO Bank. He also referred to Afghanistan’s active participation in ECO’s programmes and projects interconnecting the region and removing existing obstacles on the way of transit, and highlighted the project on development of the road corridor between Kyrgyz-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran (KTAI) and ECO Container Train Network Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul.
He further added that ECO in cooperation with Government of Afghanistan will soon organize “ECO Special Conference on Afghanistan” with the participation of the ministers/high level officials of the Member States as well as representatives of the relevant regional and international stake-holders to agree on an optimal ECO advocacy policy for Afghanistan for the years to come.
The Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference agreed to continue cooperation in the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the areas of disaster management; trade commercial and investment opportunities; regional infrastructure; counter-narcotics, etc. The Conference unanimously adopted "Amritsar Declaration," reaffirming commitment of the Heart of Asia countries for long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.