Security in Central Asia was the main topic of discussion during the high-level C5+1 summit in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, on Wednesday.

The C5+1 format includes the foreign ministers of all five former Soviet Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan – and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

“At today’s meeting, the first session issued a statement supporting economic security and partnership,” Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov said following the opening session, who added that significant progress has recently been made when it comes to cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the region’s two largest economies. According to Atamkulov, this includes,“An ambitious task is to increase bilateral trade between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to $5 billion by the end of 2020.”

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev also plans to bolster his country’s relationship with neighbouring Kyrgyzstan where he is expected to visit later this autumn.

“In recent years, within the framework of C5+1, a lot of work has been done to strengthen transport and transit corridors, increase the efficiency of processing goods that pass through the border within the region, reduce trade barriers, develop cross-border trade, and also bring goods produced in Central Asia to foreign markets,” said Atamkulov.

The C5+1 was established in November 2015 to address common safety and environmental issues, improve regional trade flows, and boost US trade and investment prospects in Central Asia.

According to the US State Department, Hale will also travel to Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent where he will meet with senior Uzbek government officials and reiterate Washington’s support for Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s reform agenda and encourage deeper bilateral cooperation on issues that include security, education, and trade.