Afghan transitions offer trade opportunity: US
WASHINGTON (PAN): The political and economic transition in Afghanistan offers tremendous opportunity for the countries of South and Central Asia to connect together in a common trade link, a top Obama Administration official said Tuesday.
“As we see the political security and economic transition ahead for Afghanistan, there's a tremendous opportunity to see the countries of Central Asia connect in trade and commerce to the countries of South Asia,” the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, told reporters at a news conference.
Biswal said the US stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the countries of Asia, to ensure that vision of Asian prosperity and Asia's role in creating a shared prosperity around the globe is realized.
It is in this regard that the US is working with its partners in the region on major energy trade customs and people-to-people projects that support that connectivity.
“CASA-1000, which is creating an energy grid that bring surplus hydropower from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to meet energy needs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is ever closer to being a reality, and we've narrowed that financing gap considerably,” Biswal said.
“TAPI, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline that would seek to bring Turkmen gas to meet the energy needs of, again, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, is again ever closer to becoming a reality, and we look forward to working with the countries in the region to address the remaining challenges,” she said.
The work done over the past decade in investing in road and infrastructure in Afghanistan and across the region is all about supporting that integrated landscape, she added. “So this vision is one of tremendous potential. And it's a vision that is not of the US making. It's a vision that's really of the region,” she said.
Responding to questions, Biswal said both India and Pakistan want stable and secure Afghanistan. “That is the point of convergence for all the countries in the region, and we think that that is the point for constructive engagement with all the countries in the region. And that has been our effort and our policy,” she said.
With respect to the transition in Afghanistan, Biswal said the United States' engagement to the region is an enduring one. “We will continue to support the economic development and prosperity of this region. We're not going away. We're not going anywhere,” she said.
“I think that we have continued to provide development assistance, economic assistance and technical support to all the countries of the region, and we are committed to that as we move forward,” Biswal said.
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