In statement, U.S. State Department says diplomatic platform will work to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties
The U.S. State Department on Friday announced that representatives from Washington, Kabul, Islamabad, and Tashkent had agreed, in principle, to establish a new diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.
“Today, we announced a new diplomatic platform to help strengthen economic connectivity across the region,” it said in a posting on Twitter. “We look forward to partnering with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to enhance regional cooperation, a cornerstone to a sustained peace,” it added.
In an accompany press statement, the State Department said that all four states considered “long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.” It said that the four countries recognized the “historic” opportunity to establish flourishing interregional trade routes, adding that “the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties.”
The statement, which was also issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, added: “The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Uzbekistan this week for an official two-day visit during which he highlighted the benefits of regional connectivity, inviting Tashkent to become party to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The U.S. remains leery of China’s ambitions, however, and the new ‘quad’ appears a means to retain a foothold in the region after Washington completes withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.