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Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, at a trade and investment forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the United States is making a concerted effort to construct high-level bilateral mechanisms with each Central Asia nation, featuring structured, annual dialogue.
"In each of those relationships, and across the region," said Under Secretary Burns, "four interconnected issues loom large: energy; economic and political modernization; security; and people-to-people contacts." Mr. Burns stressed that "this is not an 'a la carte menu' for the United States; we aim to make progress in our relations with the countries of Central Asia in all of these areas."
The U.S. has been working diligently, along with many American companies in the region to ensure that energy strategy benefits countries throughout the region, whether they are supplier, transit, or consumer countries.
The U.S. is working with Central Asian nations to help diversify economies and ensure sustainable growth. It will continue to provide technical assistance to enhance trade flows and business environment across the region. At the same time, an active civil society, an unfettered media, and the rule of law serve as vital spurs for both economic modernization and good governance. To this end, the U.S. provides technical assistance to build vibrant networks of NGOs, increase judicial capacity, and develop municipal government in Central Asia.
"Another critical factor for increasing trade and investment is of course security – an area where the United States has found strong allies in Central Asia," said Under Secretary Burns. "We're grateful to all the Central Asian states for contributing to Coalition efforts in Afghanistan," he said.
Mr. Burns noted that "one of the best ways we can advance our relations and promote mutual understanding is to connect individuals and societies." Each year, the U.S. government sends hundreds of students, teachers, journalists, artists, and sportsmen from Central Asia and Afghanistan to America. These efforts are augmented by increasing use of social media including Twitter, pod-casts, and videos.
"Expanding trade and investment and strengthening relations in Central Asia will not depend solely on government actions," said Under Secretary Burns. "Progress will ultimately depend on the partnerships built among vibrant societies, individuals, and especially dynamic companies which make the final investment decisions." The United States, he said, "is ready to join with public and private sectors in civil society in this vitally important endeavor."