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Regional Integration Crucial for Afghanistan

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington, Jan. 11, 2013.

U.S. Supports emerging role as "focal point for trade and economic activity at the Heart of Asia".

Crucial to Afghanistan’s transition from more than three decades of conflict to a stable, prosperous state is successful integration within the region.

Regional Integration Crucial To Afghanistan's Future
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In their Joint Statement on January 11, 2013, “President Obama and President Karzai recognized the important role of the region in supporting Afghanistan’s progress towards stability and prosperity. . . .The Leaders expressed support for Afghanistan’s emerging role as a focal point for trade and economic activity at the Heart of Asia.”

The United States believes that regional connectivity is the key to prosperity in Central Asia. That is why the United States is committed to the New Silk Road vision, an organizing concept for the United States’ approach to Central Asia, said Geoffrey Pyatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs.

“Increased economic cooperation to advance the New Silk Road vision involves a web of both north-south and east-west trade corridors, as well as energy grids and communications networks. New trade routes connecting Europe and the markets of Central and East Asia have received considerable attention for good reasons. Initiatives like the ‘Silk Wind’ multi-modal trade and transport network from Kazakhstan through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and eventually Europe will be an enormous boon to regional growth.”

The New Silk Road vision has found support among a number of countries, donors, businesses, scholars and civil society leaders because it makes perfect economic sense, said Mr. Pyatt.

“Afghanistan’s neighbors and near-neighbors now include some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. With their growing energy, mineral, and market access requirements, these regional mega-economies can fuel Afghanistan’s continued economic growth while increasing stability and driving private sector investment, job growth and public revenue for decades to come.”

Indeed, over the past two years, Afghanistan’s neighbors have taken a number of steps towards establishing a more integrated regional market, and the United States is willing to support those who look for opportunities to increase connectivity.

The vision of a ‘New Silk Road’ will “serve to enhance connectivity across South and Central Asia, re-establishing Afghanistan's historic role at the crossroads of Eurasia,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Pyatt.

“We are seeing many signs of progress today, because the New Silk Road vision is owned and led by countries in the region, with support provided by partners in the international community.”

The United States is committed to advancing that vision.