Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian republics have deep historical and cultural ties and increasingly important economic relations with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has put forward a vision of Afghanistan as a roundabout for Asia, linking the markets and peoples of Central and South Asia in mutual prosperity. With ongoing efforts to establish enduring peace in Afghanistan, there will need to be extensive regional support and consensus from Afghanistan’s northern neighbors. And given the increased challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, regional cooperation is more critical than ever to ensure peace and stability throughout the region.
Several Central Asian countries have already become involved in the peace process. Uzbekistan played a constructive role in the recent efforts for peace by hosting the Tashkent Conference of major international parties, which reaffirmed strong support for intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban without preconditions. And in recent years, Kazakhstan has provided both trade and aid to support key economic and social initiatives in Afghanistan for higher education, essential goods, and infrastructure.
On July 24, USIP hosted Ambassadors Roya Rahmani of Afghanistan, Javlon Vakhavbov of Uzbekistan, and Erzhan Kazykhanov of Kazakhstan for a virtual discussion on how the peace process can improve opportunities for greater regional connectivity and stability around areas of mutual interest, including security, trade, and transit. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad provided remarks on the important role of Central Asia in the Afghan peace process.
Her Excellency Roya Rahmani
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States
His Excellency Javlon Vakhabov
Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United States
His Excellency Erzhan Kazykhanov
Ambassdor of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States
His Excellency Zalmay Khalilzad
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation
Andrew Wilder, welcoming remarks
Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace
Scott Worden, moderator
Director, Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace