Stabilizing Afghanistan, strengthening relations with India, and improving relations with Central Asia are major goals of the United States in South and Central Asia, U. S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said recently at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
The region is diverse, and home to over 2 billion people, roughly one quarter of the world’s population. "With rapidly growing economies like India, emerging markets in Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, and resource-rich countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, greater linkages in this region would bring tremendous benefits to its citizens, as well as the world," Assistant Secretary Blake said. "Given this dynamic regional context, we [in the United States] have three primary objectives in the South and Central Asia region."
The first priority is the stabilization of Afghanistan. "The Central Asian nations have underpinned our efforts to fight the Taliban and rebuild Afghanistan," Assistant Secretary Blake said. For example, "the Northern Distribution Network ... runs through most of the Central Asian countries, supplies a growing percentage of provisions for our military effort ... [and] offers an alternative to the more widely used southern supply route through Pakistan."
The second priority is to build a strategic partnership with India. "India’s democracy, diversity and knowledge-based society make it special, a model of a tolerant pluralistic society in the region, and one that now actively seeks to work with the U.S. and others to help solve problems on a global level," Assistant Secretary Blake said. "[O]ur cooperation on critical issues rang[e] from climate change, to counter-terrorism, nonproliferation, and energy diversity."
The third priority is to develop more stable relations with the Central Asian countries. "Throughout history," Assistant Secretary Blake said, "Central Asia has acted as the strategic crossroads linking China to Russia, and Europe to South Asia ... [And] we aim to expand our cooperation and engagement with [the countries in] Central Asia."