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US not to topple Govts in Central Asia

However, US will promote democracy and economic development in the region, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 13:08 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran

The Bush administration would not campaign to topple leaders and governments in Central and South Asia, but would promote democracy, economic development and regional cooperation for the sake of the stability and security of the region, a top US official said in Washington on Thursday.

Richard A Boucher, Assistant Secretary-designate of the newly formed Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State Department, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the US would engage the governments and peoples of this area through "transformational diplomacy."

But he assured that the US was "not setting out on a campaign to overturn troubled leaders and governments" in this region.

"Rather, we seek to champion change and reform to produce a more stable, prosperous and integrated region through the advance of freedom," he said.

"Transformational diplomacy", a term used by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, implied "partnership" with the peoples and the governments in this region, Boucher said.

"In doing things with people, not for them, we seek to use America's diplomatic power to help foreign citizens better their own lives and to build their own nations and to transform their own futures," he explained.

The US government, along with the US private sector, would make an economic contribution in the form of new technology, opening up of markets and the provision of training.

"We would help each of these countries fight corruption and improve education - two of the most critical elements in achieving sustained growth," Boucher said.

Implications for security

The success of US policy in South and Central Asia was"critically important" for US interests, Boucher said.

"September 11th cemented our realisation that stability in South and Central Asia was ever more vital."

"Many of the world's most difficult threats are found in this region: narcotics, terrorism, corruption, weapons proliferation, HIV/AIDS, failing institutions, ethnic strife, stunted economies and natural disasters," he pointed out.

"The success of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Kyrgyztan, and other nations in working towards a modern, moderate, democratic future is critical to peace in this neighbourhood and will have major implications throughout the world," he said.

Hoping that the Central Asian and South Asian nations would develop ties with one another, Boucher said: "We believe that the strengthening of these ties and helping build new ones in energy, infrastructure transportation and other areas will increase the stability of the entire region."

He made a special mention of the oil and gas in the Caspian Sea basin, particularly in Kazakstan and Turkmenistan, and said that this could make a "significant contribution to global energy security."

Reason for clubbing South and Central Asia

Explaining the reasons for Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's 2005 decision to club Central and South Asia into one bureau, Boucher said the countries of the region belonged together.

"In addition to deep cultural and historical ties, major 21st.century realities such as the war on terror, outlets for energy supplies, economic cooperation and democratic opportunities tie these regions together," he said.

The new, combined bureau will handle India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Earlier, the Central Asian countries were handled by the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

Europe-Central Asia link to be kept up

The new structural arrangement would not sever the current links between Central Asia, Europe and the trans-Atlantic alliance, Boucher said.

"We will emphasise the involvement of the Central Asian nations with Euro-Atlantic institutions. Their links with NATO, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with individual European nations must remain an important part of their future," he said.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 12:29 IST