USA works on development of new Central Asia strategy, which will be announced soon. This became evident from the press briefing hosted by the State department following up the visit of the Kazakhstan’s foreign minister.
-Central Asia has been and remains an important crossroads for human civilization. Although this region is remote and largely unknown to most Americans, Central Asia has nevertheless been at the nexus of global transit routes for centuries, said senior State department official in introductory remarks.
He reminded that since the five countries of Central Asia achieved their independence 28 years ago, the United States has been consistent in commitment to their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, having vested interest in stability, prosperity, and security in these five countries.
Moreover, Washington seeks to increase the region’s resilience and ability to address transnational security threats, encouraging political reforms, strengthening of democratic institutions, and promoting favorable environment for local and American investments.
To intensify engagement with Central Asia, in 2015 the United States created a new platform for cooperation known as the C5+1, a diplomatic forum for dialogue and joint efforts to address common challenges.
– C5+1 has developed as a valuable platform for diplomatic engagement that has guided our regional cooperation and has begun to implement significant joint projects, said official.
In addition, USA has intensified relations on bilateral basis this year. So, in July 2019, the State department sent a delegation to Kyrgyzstan to hold bilateral consultation, first in over four years.
-In November, we hosted Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov for the sixth Annual Bilateral Consultations here in Washington. We discussed ways to deepen our cooperation on areas of mutual interest such as security, counterterrorism, education, cultural cooperation, he recalled.
Last week, Kazakhstani Deputy foreign minister travelled to Washington for Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue. Moreover, US State department looks forward to hosting the Tajik and Uzbek government delegations for annual consultations in Washington in the spring.
As it was stressed, this regional and bilateral involvement reflects the objectives and priorities, which will be embedded in the Trump administration’s new Central Asia strategy.
-The strategy will highlight our commitment to deepening our political, economic, and military engagement with Central Asia, the official clarified.
Central Asia and peace process in Afghanistan
During the briefing, one of the questions was on the role of Central Asia in assisting to concluding agreement between USA and Taliban.
-I can’t speak to the actual peace process, but I certainly can say that each of these countries has been – is extremely cooperative and supportive of that peace process, stressed the State department official.
He also underlined the fact that there are large numbers of ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks and Turkmen who live in Afghanistan. These communities and their leaders have longstanding relationships with the countries and the governments of this region.
It was emphasized that the United States and our partners in Central Asia share a common goal of bringing peace and security to Afghanistan. According to the Washington’s vision, ensuring stability and reintegrating Afghanistan back into the broader region will open doors to increased economic connectivity and opportunity accords the entire Central Asia.
USA cannot compete Chinese investments in Central Asia
Over the past couple of years, analysts and experts who follow the developments in the Central Asian five, often discourse on the geoeconomical and geopolitical competition of USA, China and Russia. The briefing at the state Department shed some light on how real such rivalry between the United States and China in the economic plane.
One of the questions was if the new Central Asian strategy would enable Central Asia access to foreign capital, foreign investment at lower interest rates than they currently get from the China.
The State Department official having answered positively on this question, explained that such mechanism as Development Finance Corporation will be available soon after authorization by Congress. It will combine such institutions as Overseas Private Investment Corporation and USAID, responsible for providing foreign aid through the financing of private development projects.
-At the same time, we’re not in a position to compete with China in terms of, like, offering the kind of infrastructure investment that China offers, said official.
Pointing on that investment needs to be led by the private sector, the official said that any projects need to be commercially viable and commercially sustainable. This requires creation a business-friendly investment climate that – where intellectual property is respected, where the sanctity of contracts is observed, where there’s an independent judiciary.
As it was stressed, Central Asian countries “have made considerable strides in that direction to improve their business climate”.