On September 22, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will co-chair, with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, a German-hosted meeting on the “New Silk Road” vision at the UN General Assembly to highlight the importance of building a sustainable Afghan economy and expanding regional economic linkages and the importance of taking steps now to realize this vision.
As Secretary Clinton said in a speech in Chennai, India, on July 20, the “New Silk Road” is a long-term vision of an international economic and transit network that links Central and South Asia, with Afghanistan at its heart. This network would allow Afghanistan to attract new sources of foreign private-sector investment and connect to markets abroad, while generating new resources, markets, and investment opportunities for the entire region.
This vision complements efforts to seek a political solution to Afghanistan’s decades-long war. An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia will incentivize those interested in peace and reconciliation. Afghanistan’s neighbors and near-neighbors have a major stake in ensuring that Afghanistan develops from a post-conflict society to an active player in the global economy.
Also on September 22, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides will participate in a World Bank-hosted meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss Afghan and international efforts to respond to the economic impact of the transition. The meeting will discuss ways to support Afghan reform efforts to transition from foreign sources of financing to sustainable economic growth increasingly driven by private investment.
The government of Afghanistan and the international community must take steps now to address the economic impact of transition, support a sustainable Afghan economy, attract private sector investment, and set the conditions for the New Silk Road vision. The United States stands ready to continue our support for regional efforts toward that vision, both through financial support and facilitation of private sector investment.
We will work with governments in the region to overcome barriers to the free flow of energy, goods, and information and to attract private investment so that the people and states of the region can prosper. As an example of our continuing commitment to public-private partnerships, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, USAID, and the Government of Afghanistan will sign an agreement on September 22 to support private-sector investment in the Sheberghan power plant in Afghanistan.
Following on from the meetings on September 22, foreign ministers from Afghanistan’s neighbors and near neighbors will meet in Istanbul on November 2 to produce a declaration of support by the region for Afghan reconciliation, security, and sovereignty and agree on a regional consultative mechanism.
A month later, some 85 foreign ministers and the heads of 15 or more international organizations will gather in Bonn on December 5 for the tenth anniversary of the agreement that launched the political process that has led to an increasingly sovereign and responsible Afghanistan. Bonn will be an opportunity for the international community to welcome the Istanbul declaration and to reiterate its commitment to Afghanistan in its region – to make clear to the people of Afghanistan that the transition to Afghan security leadership will not mean the end of international support.