Secretary Clinton Co-Chairs the New Silk Road Ministerial Meeting

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 23, 2011
Secretary Clinton Co Chairs New Silk Road Meeting with German Foreign Minister Westerwelle

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle co-chaired the New Silk Road Ministerial, hosted by the German Mission in New York City on September 22, 2011. Earlier this year, Secretary Clinton outlined in a speech in Chennai, India, on July 20 her vision of a "New Silk Road" linking markets in South and Central 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, and it would promote regional growth based on Afghanistan's economic potential.

Yesterday's New Silk Road Ministerial meeting included Afghanistan's neighbors and near-neighbors and a small group of international partners. During the meeting, Secretary Clinton said:

"...We all recognize that Afghanistan's political future is linked to its economic future -- and in fact to the future of the entire region. That is a lesson we have learned over and over again, all over the world -- lasting stability and security go hand in hand with economic opportunity. People need a realistic hope for a better life, a job and a chance to provide for their family. And that is especially true in Afghanistan.

"For political reconciliation to succeed, Afghans must be able to envision a more prosperous, peaceful future. That will take a lot of hard work, but I firmly believe it is possible.

"Afghanistan needs a sustainable economy at home that is not dependent on international assistance, and that will require leadership from the government and investment from the private sector. But it is also clear, as it has been throughout Afghanistan's past that it's economic future, like it's political future is bound up with the fortunes of the wider region.

"For Afghans to enjoy sustainable prosperity, they will have to work alongside all of their neighbors to shape a more integrated economic future for the region that will create jobs and will undercut the appeal of extremism.

"As I outlined in a speech that I gave this summer in Chennai, an Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia would be better able to attract new sources of foreign investment, connect to markets abroad and provide people with credible alternatives to insurgency. Increasing regional trade could open up new sources of raw material, energy, and agricultural products for every nation in the region.

"For centuries, the nations of South and Central Asia were connected to each other and the rest of the continent by a sprawling trading network called the Silk Road. Afghanistan's bustling markets sat at the heart of this network. Afghan merchants traded their goods from the court of the Pharaohs to the Great Wall of China.

"As we look to the future of this region, let's take this precedent as inspiration for a long-term vision for Afghanistan and its neighbors. Let's set our sights on a new Silk Road -- a web of economic and transit connections that will bind together a region too long torn apart by conflict and division.

"Now, let me hasten to add that I am clear-eyed about the entrenched obstacles standing in the way. But I don't know what the alternative is. If we do not pledge ourselves to a new economic vision for the region, I do not think that a more prosperous future is as likely. Now I also realize that this long-term vision may seem detached from everyday concerns of Afghans. But I also believe it has the potential to drive tangible progress on the ground and make a difference in people's lives.

"Turkmen gas fields could help meet both Pakistan's and India's growing energy needs and provide significant transit revenues for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tajik cotton could be turned into Indian linens. Furniture and fruit from Afghanistan could find its way to the markets of Astana or Mumbai and beyond.

"So how do we turn this vision into a reality? Well, starting today, and in the coming months at international meetings in Istanbul, Bonn, and Chicago, we will have the opportunity to think through the specifics.

"First, in the short-term, we need to work together to support the Afghan people as they meet the economic and security challenges that come with transition from the military mission. As coalition combat forces leave Afghanistan, the support structure that has grown up to supply them will shrink dramatically. That will mean fewer jobs for Afghans and a loss of economic activity. So the Afghan economy will need new sources of growth independent of foreign assistance connected to the military mission. Today at the World Bank, many of our colleagues are discussing this challenge. We need to work together to support an achievable, Afghan-led economic strategy to improve agricultural productivity, develop Afghanistan's natural resources in a way that benefits the Afghan people, increase exports and strengthen the financial sector, among other steps.

"And as we head toward Bonn, I hope our partners will commit to reinvest a share of the so-called 'transition dividend' achieved by drawing down combat forces back into Afghan-led economic and security efforts. We will work closely together with all of you in the coming months to develop a transparent and sustainable mechanism to identify and deliver assistance in a way that builds Afghanistan's capacity.

"The United States will continue shifting our development efforts from short-term stabilization projects, largely as part of the military strategy, to longer-term sustainable development that focuses on spurring growth, creating jobs, invigorating the private sector, and integrating Afghanistan into the South and Central Asia economy.

"We also know that governments alone cannot possibly solve Afghanistan's economic problems, so we have to work to create an environment that attracts private sector investment.

"Just today we launched a new partnership to promote private investment in Afghanistan's energy sector that will drive significant economic growth during the transition process and beyond.

"As transition proceeds, Afghanistan and its neighbors can begin taking concrete steps toward developing a more sustainable Afghan economy and better connecting it to the rest of the region.

"For example, upgrading the facilities at border crossings, such as what India and Pakistan are now doing at the Wagah Crossing. Fostering private sector investment in rail lines, highways, and energy infrastructure, like the proposed pipeline, the so-call (inaudible) pipeline to run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, Pakistan and into India. This isn't about grand infrastructure projects -- it's about promoting sustainable cross-border economic activity.

"And it will require removing bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people that currently stifle trade and cooperation.

"We are very pleased to see Afghanistan and Pakistan implementing fully their historic transit trade agreement. I think this could be seen as a benchmark to extend to the countries of Central Asia. Indeed, several of Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors have already moved to implement similar transit trade agreements to the north. And we are very much looking forward to the meetings of India and Pakistan's commerce ministers next week, along with their large private sector delegations.

"All of these steps would have an immediate impact on economic activity and could help lay the foundation for true regional integration.

"But let's be honest, any of this to be successful will require changes in attitude and a sustained commitment of political will. To attract more private investment, which is critical, the nations of the region need to offer lasting stability and security. That means as hard as it is, putting aside old enmities and rivalries, focusing on opportunities, not just threats. And, I would of course add, welcoming the full participation of women in the economic and political life of the region, which will add to unlocking the enormous untapped economic potential we see in the countries there.

"At each step of the way down this road, in the short-, medium- and long-term, economic and political progress will be mutually reinforcing. Nations will not only enjoy the benefits of greater trade but they will also enjoy the benefits that come from working together. And we know that there has to be tangible improvements in people's lives.

"But I think it's about time we have something we can say yes to, not just no to. No to terrorism, no to extremism, no to insurgency. Yes, that is our message and has been for more than a decade.

"But yes to economic integration, yes to closer ties between the nations of this region, yes to a better future for the people who live there.

"When we meet again in Germany, I hope we are ready to formalize our specific support for this vision, and to welcome regional commitments that will have been made in Istanbul and to commit to the transition dividends that I think are so important. I look forward to working with all of you to realize the vision of the New Silk Road."

You can also read the Secretary's remarks on state.gov.

Comments

Comments

siahaanadrie@windowslive.com
|
Indonesia
September 23, 2011

Adri D. in Indonesia writes:

okay I can do that

thanks for the input

God Bless

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 26, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I know that getting to a point of normal intra governmental relations is important to getting to a sustainable regional trade architecture, and so Admial Mullen's testimony the other day regarding the ISI's role in the attack on the US embassy recently speaks to a completely alternate attitude than what the civilian side of the Pakistani gov. claims in being good neighborly and into creating peace and stability.

Then you have Iranians getting caught red handed w/shipping container @ Afghan border, full of mines, ammo, and rpg rounds for the taliban and I wonder what and who sahe meant when speaking of "removing;....and people that currently stifle trade and cooperation."

Let's say yes to Pakistan disbanding the ISI ( and giving all its nukes to the US for good measure, knowing we won't let anyone else nuke them if they do so. and giving India fair reason to dismantle thier's.)

Let's say yes to putting Iran on notice that the longer they supply arms and training to those shooting at ISAF forces, the greater the risk they run in having war declared upon the Iranian government by any number of governments, not just the US.

I guess my point being that if it be a change in attitude one seeks, it can be found in the self correction of political malfunction as an end unto itself, and folks will have the fair trade they wish to create.

What do we have to do to be reasonably unreasonable about putting up with those who would provide material support for terrorists we are at war with?

I guess no one's ever published the "little red line" that constitutes causus belli and leads America to declare war, our enemies are generaly impatient and attack us first.

What is that fulcrum point of elemental insidiousness realized in the minds of a bi-partisan majority in the US gov. regarding the nature of the actions of the Iranian government that strips any doubt away as to intent?

All the while Iranian diplomats talk loudly about how neighborly they are and what aid (and bags of cash for influence) they dole out,...in Afghanistan.

Same basic M.O. as in Iraq,....

Where's the accountability going to come from for the lives lost due to these continuing destabilization efforts?

This activity has been going on, on the record, for at least the last 6 years folks, where do we draw the line between saying it's "got to stop" and putting an end to it?

To get to where you want to go and win this so to bring folks home vis a vis, "Move over Rover...I wanna watch the Afghans take over.";

I'm really not sure an reconciliation process lead by anyone would produce better results that what Pakistan tried in Swat, and the bitter learning experience that comes from compromising with terrorists.

One can hope all that will be realized in a proper attitude to take the steps needed to assure peace in the region so that trade across borders flows unbroken, but there are "many rivers to cross" as one songwriter put it in being free to persue prosperity in peace.

EJ

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