U.S. Says Central Asia to Become 'Region of Cooperative Partners'

U.S. Says Central Asia to Become 'Region of Cooperative Partners'
The U.S. State Department released the new Strategy for Central Asia on Wednesday.

Advancing sovereignty and regional security in Central Asia, enhancing stability in Afghanistan and its connectivity with Central Asian countries, promotion of rule of law in the region, and increasing United States investment in Central Asia. The new United States Strategy for Central Asia includes six overarching and mutually reinforcing objectives for the next five years.

With consistent United States engagement, according to the document, the countries in Central Asia will function as a region of cooperative partners, increasing their ability to maintain individual sovereignty and make clear choices to achieve and preserve economic independence.

The report released by the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the U.S. State Department on Wednesday says support for a unified electric grid across Central Asia will help facilitate the trade of surplus electricity to reduce costs for consumers, generate revenues for suppliers, improve regional energy security, and reduce reliance on external actors. 

The report underlines the importance of Central Asia-South Asia power project (CASA-1000) which aims to bolster Central Asian economies by facilitating electricity exports from Central Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The project is expected to be completed in 2020.

According to the report, the United States is also working to simplify visa and customs procedures in Central Asia to support the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, which promises to dramatically improve Central Asian and Afghan trade with European and Eurasian countries. This international transit route opened in 2018 and links Afghanistan to Turkey via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The United States recognizes that a secure and stable Afghanistan is a top priority for the Central Asian governments, and each has an important role to play in supporting a peace process in the country. Washington says it will encourage the Central Asian countries to develop economic and trade relations with Afghanistan and to model stable governance of multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority countries.

The U.S. State Department says it will work to ensure the countries of the region are increasingly better connected to Europe through the Caucasus, to Afghanistan and South Asia, as well as to global markets. According to the document, expanding opportunities for American businesses will enhance economic prosperity in the region, as well as support employment and industry in the United States.