By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: A regional connectivity conference was held in Tashkent on July 15 and 16 to aim at promoting security, prosperity, and regional connectivity in and between Central and South Asia. Delegations from the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran, among others, were in attendance. Delegations from the United States and the five Central Asian countries met in the C5+1 format to affirm their commitment to strengthen regional connectivity via trade, transport, and energy links.
Assistant to President Joe Biden for Homeland Security, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall delivered opening remarks recognizing 30 years of partnership between the United States and the countries of Central Asia. She reaffirmed the U.S. government’s commitment to realizing the region’s potential as a transit, trade, and energy hub. Dr. Sherwood-Randall also emphasized the importance of infrastructure development that safeguards the environment and meets the highest international standards.
Dr. Sherwood-Randall met with Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and also held bilateral meetings with senior officials from across the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and India to identify concrete opportunities to enhance security in the region, address humanitarian concerns, and increase vaccinations to stem the spread of Covid-19. She was joined by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Daniel Rosenblum.
The delegation also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar to discuss the evolving security situation in Afghanistan, U.S. support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and U.S. diplomatic support for a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. On the margins, the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan announced with Ambassador Khalilzad a new diplomatic platform to help strengthen economic connectivity across the region. On the success of the Conference, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price affirmed that the United States “stand(s) with our Central Asian partners in support of increased economic ties for greater regional prosperity and stability.”