US to launch regional funds for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan

Published November 21, 2020
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said Washington will soon announce a high-level meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to encourage trade and development. — Reuters/File
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said Washington will soon announce a high-level meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to encourage trade and development. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday that Washington will soon announce a high-level meeting of representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to encourage trade and development in that region.

The United States, which will also participate in the meeting, is also launching a fund to encourage investments in the South and Central Asian region.

Ambassador Khalilzad is the Trump administration’s Special Represen­ta­tive for Afghanistan Reconciliation and has played a key role in negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban with Pakistan’s support.

The deal, which calls for a total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afgha­n­is­tan by May 2021, was signed in February.

The Trump administration wants to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan within this framework but faces a strong resistance from the Pentagon which opposes an unconditional pullout.

“We look forward to soon announcing a regional investment fund and a high-level meeting of representatives from the United States, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to discuss connectivity, trade and development initiatives,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote in a tweet posted on his official Twitter account.

The tweet followed his meeting with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov in Washington on Thu­rs­day. Uzbek Special Representative Ismatulla Irgashev also attended the meeting.

“We discussed the current status of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and the importance of an immediate reduction in violence,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote.

“We also discussed the region’s role in helping the Afghan peace process and recommitted to the importance of regional economic connectivity, trade and development facilitated by peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

The US diplomat noted that peace in Afghanistan would benefit Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Kabul, where he vowed to “do everything” to help curb violence and push for a ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan forces.

Khan’s first visit to Kabul as prime minister comes amidst escalating violence in Afghanistan, which also threatens peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that began in Doha in September.

In August, Pakistan hosted a meeting of key Taliban leaders in Islamabad, urging them to hold talks with the Afghan government to end decades of conflict. Islamabad also emphasised the need for an intra-Afghan dialogue to ensure regional stability.

The US-Taliban treaty also calls for such a dialogue and links the withdrawal of troops to the success of these negotiations.

The Trump administration wants to implement the deal before a new administration takes charge in Washington early next year.

The incoming Biden administration also wants a troop-pullout but does not share President Donald Trump’s eagerness to do it as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...
Budget for stabilisation
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Budget for stabilisation

The proposed steps lack any “disruptive policy changes", especially to "right-size" the govt, and doubts remain on authorities' ability to enforce new measures.
State of the economy
13 Jun, 2024

State of the economy

THE current fiscal year is but another year lost. Going by the new Pakistan Economic Survey, which maps the state of...
Unyielding onslaught
Updated 13 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...