Representatives from more than 20 countries gathered in the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Monday for an international conference on the future of Afghanistan.

Emissaries from the United States, Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, and the five Central Asian nations met with a European Union delegation headed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who helped lead a discussion about the Afghan peace process, as well as counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and regional cooperation.

The Tashkent conference comes on the heels of the so-called Kabul Process held in the Afghan capital on February 28 in which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed open peace talks with the Taliban, without preconditions.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon attended the Tashkent conference and he is also scheduled to meet with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov during his three-day trip.

The State Department said Shannon would discuss with Uzbek leaders “the progress made under Mirziyoev’s reform agenda, reaffirm support for Uzbekistan’s valuable contributions to leadership in the region, and underscore the United States’ commitment to stability in Uzbekistan and throughout Central Asia,” the State Department said.

Mirziyoev has taken steps to improve Uzbekistan’s ties with its neighbours since he became president after the death of dictatorial President Islam Karimov in September 2016.

During Karimov’s 27-year rule in Central Asia’s most-populous nation, its relations with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan were strained by disputes over transit routes, border security, water resources, and minority.