NEWS AND EVENTS
October 30, 2009
US envoy says Uzbekistan serves as bridge between civilizations
US Ambassador to Uzbekistan Richard Norland said at the General Meeting of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) on 29 October that Uzbekistan plays the role of bridge between civilizations.
Richard Norland said: “Professor Fred Starr, of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, put it this way: looking back over the centuries, he concluded that “somewhere in the DNA of the peoples of Central Asia is the capacity to become a link and a bridge between civilizations.” And, in my view, no country is more centrally located in playing this bridge role than Uzbekistan.” US envoy said: “We see the importance of this bridge role in the support Uzbekistan is providing to US and NATO forces in Afghanistan by allowing non-lethal cargo to transit via commercial rail and truck en route to Hairaton, just across the border from Termez.
But behind this activity is a much larger vision, namely extending commercial transit routes from Eurasia to the Indian Ocean.” Uzbekistan will play a key role in the next step in this process, namely extending the rail line from Hairaton to Mazar-e-sharif, where cargo can be deposited directly onto the Ring Road. The Asian Development Bank, with US support, is funding this project, with actual construction to be carried out by Uzbekistan Railways, he said. “And already there is talk of going further in the years ahead, as far as Herat, where connections can be made to the large ports and markets of Pakistan, India and Iran.
These Southern routes would provide an important economic complement to the existing transit routes to the North, East and West,” he added. “Of course, peace and stability in Afghanistan will be critical to the realization of this vision, which is in everyone’s interest.
The situation there is difficult, to be sure, but the fundamental building blocks are in place for a solution: concerted pressure by Pakistan on extremists exploiting its territory; a legitimate government in Afghanistan; and strong involvement by the international community in providing security and economic aid. “Afghanistan has a high place on the US-Uzbek agenda, but it is by no means the only issue. Our common interests extend across a wide agenda that also includes economic growth, the investment climate, educational exchanges, human rights, civil society, drug trafficking, and many more. Nor do we see progress in any one sphere as detrimental to progress in another, but rather quite the opposite: when we engage productively on any aspect of our relationship, we are more likely to be in a position to achieve progress on other fronts,” US Ambassador said.