Under Secretary Robert D. Hormats for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs today stressed that “New Silk Road” strategy will harness collective economic strength of Afghanistan.
In his address to the SAIS Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and CSIS Forum, Mr. Hormats said the United States believes the New Silk Road Initiative can provide a critical economic boost for all of Afghanistan’s neighbors as well.
“The importance of improving connections between South and Central Asia – especially Afghanistan and Pakistan – is made all the more urgent as we and our allies begin the transition process in Afghanistan, which will ultimately result in the complete handover of security responsibility to the Afghans.” -Mr. Hormats
He emphasized that just because the U.S. government is drawing down its military forces does not mean they are abandoning Afghanistan or the region.
“As President Obama said in June, our efforts are aimed at “[building] a partnership with the Afghan people that endures…” – Mr. Hormats
He said the transition must be sustainable – and the political and security effort must be complemented by progress towards increasing economic opportunities for Afghanistan and the broader region.
“That’s why when Secretary Clinton announced a diplomatic effort aimed at bringing a political end to this decades long conflict, she included as a key component a vision to integrate Afghanistan into the regional economy.” -Mr. Hormats
According to Mr. Hormats, the basis for the “New Silk Road” vision is that if Afghanistan is firmly embedded in the economic life of the region, it will be better able to attract new investment, benefit from its resource potential, and provide increasing economic opportunity and hope for its people. He said that the U.S. government believes that the New Silk Road Initiative will be of particular importance to Pakistan, and can be an important way for Pakistan to further develop its economy and provide jobs for its people.
“The purpose of the meeting was to gather regional and international support behind the notion that, as she said, “lasting stability and security go hand in hand with economic opportunity.” -Mr. Hormats
He stressed that Afghanistan as a whole must focus on setting the broad context for sustainable growth. He said the international community must continue to find ways to support and encourage that growth.
“As the Secretary said in Chennai last July, the “New Silk Road” vision “means upgrading the facilities at border crossings, such as India and Pakistan are now doing at Wagah.” -Mr. Hormats