U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the drying up of the Aral Sea is one of the planet's most shocking disasters and is calling on Central Asian leaders to step up cooperation in solving the environmental problems, AP reported.
On Sunday, he toured the Aral Sea by helicopter as part of a visit to the five countries of former Soviet Central Asia.
Once the world's fourth largest body of fresh water, the sea shrank by 90 per cent after the Soviets boosted cotton production in the arid region.
After arriving in the western Uzbek city of Nukus, Ban pledged to urge all Central Asian leaders to "sit down together and try to find the solutions."
Ban is to meet Uzbekistan's autocratic President Islam Karimov later Sunday, and human rights issues are also expected to be on the agenda.