Energetic U.S. engagement in South and Central Asia remains vital to U.S. national security and regional stability as the U.S. Government aims to foster an integrated, cooperative region that supports peace and prosperity. Our highest priority across the region will be to support the New Silk Road vision outlined by Secretary Clinton in 2011. The New Silk Road envisions a network, with Afghanistan at its heart, of economic and transit connections throughout Central and South Asia. As the U.S. continues to support Afghanistan's transition and integration into the wider region, we will continue to strengthen the U.S. partnership with India, support reconciliation in Nepal and Sri Lanka, solidify democratic gains in the Kyrgyz Republic, and support democratic institutions throughout the region. U.S. programs and policy will continue to increase food security in Tajikistan, reinforce transitions towards peace and economic growth in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives, and improve access to healthcare, strengthen education, and increase access to objective news and information for citizens of Central Asia. To fortify its efforts to generate region-wide linkages, the United States will enhance cooperation with multilateral partners, regional organizations and country coalitions to address cross-border challenges, including narcotics flows, barriers to trade, human trafficking, terrorism threats to trans-boundary water management, energy resources and disaster preparedness.
Kyrgyzstan: Other countries in Central Asia are watching as the Kyrgyz Republic embarks on a historic path to full democracy. U.S. assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic will continue to strengthen democratic institutions as well as promote regional security, the rule of law, and broad-based economic opportunity. In the past 18 months, despite the outbreak of deadly ethnic violence in the south of the country in June 2010, the Kyrgyz Republic held successful parliamentary and presidential elections and a constitutional referendum, all of which were considered transparent, largely fair, and reflected the will of the people. The presidential inauguration on December 1, 2011, marked the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in Central Asia's history. The U.S. provided support for election administration, training for political parties, assistance with televised candidate debates, and support for robust domestic election monitoring efforts. Rapid deployment of U.S. humanitarian assistance also helped stabilize conflict affected areas, contributing to the peaceful conduct and acceptance of the results of the elections. The Kyrgyz Republic's economy contracted during and after the downfall of the previous government and subsequent upheaval. U.S. assistance helped the Kyrgyz Government enact economic reforms, improve its trade policies, and restore food and animal feed production levels. The joint U.S.-Kyrgyz Economic Development Fund was formally launched in FY 2011, beginning with a $4.1 million voucher program which supplied quality seed to 34,000 farmers. The seed distributions enabled farmers to produce at least $20 million more in crops than in the previous year. In FY 2011, the U.S. supported a number of activities to strengthen the rule of law. To address the needs of the Kyrgyz Government for professionally trained and equipped crowd management units, U.S. security assistance supported training to 500 public order police stationed in Osh City and Jalalabad district. Additional assistance provided in-depth training and equipment to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and other law enforcement and justice system actors.
Nepal: In Nepal, U.S. policy seeks to support a stable, democratic and prosperous country in which the rights of all citizens are respected and protected. The Department and USAID are pursuing this goal against the backdrop of a country still emerging from a brutal, ten-year civil conflict and undergoing dramatic political, social and economic change. Responding to these complex challenges requires the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to take a "whole-of-government" approach to programs. To support the conclusion of the long-delayed peace process and prevent future conflict, USAID, the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense are working together to smooth the transition of former Maoist combatants into civilian life and to support the integration of others into the Nepal Army. Recognizing Nepal's extreme vulnerability to natural disasters - particularly a catastrophic earthquake - the Embassy created a Disaster Risk Reduction Office to focus on disaster issues and coordinate U.S. efforts in that area. This innovative office, headed by a USAID Foreign Service Officer, works closely with the Department of Defense, the United Nations (UN), donors, the Nepali diaspora, the private sector, and the Government of Nepal to reverse the disaster risk equation, save lives, and protect U.S. interests and investments in Nepal. USAID is also leading an interagency effort to implement the Global Health Initiative Country Strategy for Nepal, which is strengthening the national health system, building public-private partnerships, and extending health service delivery to women, children, and historically marginalized groups. Nepal is one of the few countries on track to meet its Millennium Development Goals goals for child mortality and maternal health. U.S. Government assistance has contributed to impressive progress in these areas since 1991, including a decrease in under-five mortality rates from 158 to 54 deaths per 1,000 live births. The State Department, USAID, and Justice Department are working together to combat the scourge of human trafficking by building police capacity, strengthening civil society, and supporting trafficking survivors. Finally, the Embassy's Economic/Commercial office is partnering with USAID's Economic Growth program to promote economic reform and U.S. trade and investment in Nepal.
Bangladesh: In Bangladesh, U.S. agencies directly engage and collaborate effectively with the Government of Bangladesh (GOB), demonstrating the "Three D's" of American foreign policy - diplomacy, development, and defense. Over the past forty years, the U.S. Government's partnership with the GOB has produced significant development results. From 2001-2010, maternal mortality rates declined by 40 percent, access to electricity increased to 42 percent in 2011 from 3 percent in 1971, and rice yields have dramatically increased in the past 30 years. Our ongoing development cooperation in Bangladesh builds on past successes and supports the President's Global Health, Food Security, and Climate Change Initiatives. U.S. assistance enables Bangladesh to address critical health challenges such as an unmet need for family planning, continued high rates of maternal and under-five mortality, one of the highest burdens of tuberculosis in the world, and severe stunting and malnutrition among children. Under our Feed the Future program we are increasing rural agricultural productivity, enhancing crop diversification, addressing high levels of under-nutrition, and working towards improving the livelihoods of up to 900,000 people in southwest Bangladesh. U.S. resources are also working to consolidate Bangladesh's democratic transition by strengthening political practices and processes. The Department of State and USAID funding will continue to invest in our political, economic, development, and security relationship with Bangladesh to help the country lift millions of its people out of poverty, play a leadership role in promoting regional connectivity, and become a model for a moderate, secular, democratic society that is at peace with itself and its neighbors.