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U.S. Envoy: New Silk Road Would Bring Prosperity

Source: RFE/RL

DUSHANBE -- The U.S. special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan says a bid to revive the ancient Silk Road across Central Asia should bring prosperity to the region, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The Silk Road route
Silk Road extending from Europe through Egypt, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Central Asia, India/Pakistan, Java-Indonesia, and Vietnam until it reaches China. The land routes are red, and the water routes are blue.

Marc Grossman made the comments in Dushanbe on October 7 after meeting with President Emomali Rahmon to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Grossman claimed that Rahmon expressed support for the proposed revival of the ancient Silk Road, saying the project should be drafted and implemented fast.

The Silk Road in World History
The Silk Road in World History

"This vision of the new Silk Road is a way to bring economic development and prosperity to the very important region from Central Asia to New Delhi," Grossman said. "As the President [Rahmon] just put it to me, it is the way to connect Central Asia to South Asia."

Grossman also indicated that he and Rahmon discussed upcoming international conferences on Afghanistan and its neighbors to be held in Istanbul, Turkey on November 2 and in Bonn, Germany, on December 5.

"The idea in Istanbul is for the neighbors and near-neighbors of Afghanistan to show their support for the future of a secure and stable and prosperous Afghanistan inside of a secure, stable and prosperous region," he said.

"And the idea of the conference in Bonn, which will be chaired by the government of Afghanistan and hosted by the government of Germany, is to welcome the statement from Istanbul and very importantly to move forward with the vision of a new Silk Road."

The Silk Road was once at the heart of lucrative trade routes between Asia and the West, with merchants carrying goods ranging from textiles to spices.

The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia
The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia

About 25 countries met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month to discuss the idea of reviving the Silk Road by developing closer economic ties between Afghanistan and its neighbors.

Asked on October 7 about the situation in Afghanistan after the assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, Grossman said "the death of Professor Rabbani is a message that we have to continue this process of peace."

Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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