On June 30, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale chaired the C5+1 High Level Dialogue.
The C5+1 platform is based on the principle that regional interconnectivity and close coordination and cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and the United States serve our shared interests.
The High-Level Dialogue was held at a time of new and shared challenges. The human and economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic affects all of us, and we stand together in our determination to emerge stronger and more prosperous.
The United States remains firmly committed to supporting the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of each of the Central Asian countries.
In this regard, the pandemic highlights the importance of partnership and solidarity — as well as transparency and timely and full information sharing — from all countries to human health, good governance, and the global economy.
As an intergovernmental platform, the C5+1 format continues to demonstrate its significance and relevance as a platform to advance regional peace, stability, and prosperity in Central Asia. Together, we will continue to support strong civil societies in Central Asia through the protection of human rights and compliance with international law.
As Chair, the United States hosted a robust discussion of economic resilience. That discussion is reflected in the following aspirations and goals:
- Building the long-term prosperity of Central Asia, taking full advantage of the region’s strategic position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia;
- Strengthening the conditions that ensure long-term economic resilience, increase access to global markets, and attract sustainable international business to each member country;
- Expanding trade and a welcoming legal and regulatory environment for businesses to facilitate sustainable private sector growth, expansion of trade opportunities, and development, including by valuing the role of the regional Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in providing a collaborative structure for discussing the role of trade in fostering regional integration, empowering women, and resolving impediments to effective trade between the United States and Central Asia and develop our economic relationships through continuing consultations;
- Continuing to expand educational and economic opportunities for all people of Central Asia and the region, including through academic and professional development opportunities and English-language education;
- Continuing to develop connectivity among the C5 and other countries of the region in the energy sector, including the expansion of the Central Asia Regional Electricity Market (CAREM), developing renewable energy capacity, and supporting national plans for adaptation to environmental challenges, including through resource management initiatives;
- Improving air, water, land, and rail transportation infrastructure;
- Avoiding unnecessary barriers to trade to enhance and ensure regional food security, as the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that current food production, processing, and distribution systems are vulnerable to global disruption.
The United States stands ready to work with the countries of Central Asia to leverage economic tools available through the Development Finance Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, USAID, and partnerships with international financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank.
The United States takes note of the offer of the government of Kazakhstan to leverage the potential of the Astana International Financial Center as a venue to facilitate international and regional investment.
The United States also takes note of the interest by the governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in exploring opportunities to construct railways connecting Afghanistan to Central Asia, as well as other regional transportation infrastructure proposals.
The United States notes an interest in continued consultations on sanctions issues to seek to avoid any unintended consequences for the economies of the Central Asian countries.
The United States continues to support the establishment of legal and regulatory standards that attract international investment, including through the Blue Dot Network standards in infrastructure investment.
The United States recognizes that long-term economic resilience is only possible with the full participation, empowerment, and safety of women. Through the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative and Women, Peace, and Security agenda, the United States will continue supporting women’s empowerment in Central Asia.
The United States recognizes that ongoing coordination will be required to address the challenges facing migrant laborers affected by the COVID-19 crisis and will identify steps that can facilitate safe labor migration and prevent abuse, including human trafficking. The United States urges the C5 to support policies and actions that prevent trafficking in persons and prosecute those responsible.
The pandemic and related global economic and commodity price shocks could significantly increase the number of countries in or at risk of debt distress. United States recognizes the importance of exploring avenues for targeted debt relief for the most vulnerable countries, including in Central Asia.
The United States urges the C5 to continue supporting all efforts to reach a lasting political settlement and a reduction of violence in Afghanistan. The Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Khalilzad reported on the situation in Afghanistan.
The discussion of regional security and Afghanistan reflected the following aspirations and goals:
- Continued support for peace and stability through increased trade, transportation, security cooperation, and energy connectivity between Afghanistan and Central Asia and through people-to-people exchanges.
- Commitment to cooperating with Afghanistan bilaterally, multilaterally, and regionally on border security. These efforts include opportunities for Afghan participation in border and security trainings as well as efforts to combat cross-border threats, including terrorism and the illicit trafficking of drugs and people.
- Efforts to increase educational ties between Central Asia and Afghanistan, particularly those aimed at providing educational opportunities for Afghan women and girls.
The United States notes the success of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek in providing higher education opportunities for Central Asian and Afghan students and welcomes the $50 million program for the education of 1,000 Afghan students in Kazakhstan.
The United States welcomes the work of the OSCE Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe in enhancing the knowledge of senior border security and management officials as well as the readiness of Tajikistan to establish an educational and vocational training centers in the south of the country and share its experience with the neighboring Afghanistan.
The United States welcomes Uzbekistan’s hosting of Afghan students at its Termez Educational Center and opportunities for expanding its potential through the establishment of a scholarship
program for citizens of Afghanistan, including women, in the areas of education and specialties most demanded by the country’s economy and with the assistance of existing U.S. program
The United States looks forward to ongoing cooperation with the countries of Central Asia under the C5+1 framework through both C5+1 working groups and future high-level meetings.