Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry announced on 14 August that US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale is due in Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan on 20-21 August for two days of talks with the new leadership of the Central Asian energy giant, which held landmark elections in June that saw Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev elected to replace Nursultan Nazarbayev as Kazakhstan’s president.
An American delegation will also take part in the so-called C5+1 meeting involving the former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan to discuss enhancing a multilateral mechanism that would increase cooperation in the fields of economy, environment, and security.
Along with the US-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council, the C5+1 is Washington’s main tool to approach Central Asia as a region. The first meeting took place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in November 2015 and focuses much of its attention to counter-terrorism activities under the auspices of the US Institute of Peace, facilitating private sector development of the internal Central Asian market, promoting low emission and advanced energy solution, and analysing environmental risks under the umbrella of the Agency for International Development, commonly known as USAID.
Recent developments in the American-Central Asia relationship have included official meetings in Washington between US President Donald J. Trump and his counterparts, former President Nazarbayev and Uzbekistan’s reformist leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have taken lead roles in helping to foster some semblance of regional, including with Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who continues to pursue an isolationist foreign policy that has left his energy-rich nation largely closed to the outside world.
Central Asia’s geographic position has made the region an increasingly important partner for the United States as it continues to act as a critical link between Europe and Asia. The US’ New Silk Road Initiative hopes to connect Central Asia with its southern neighbours India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The enhanced economic cooperation between the United States and Central Asia would benefit both sides economically as large-scale American investment into the region would significantly boost growth in the five Central Asian nations and help ween the local economies off remittances sent from their respective citizens working in Russia, while American businesses would increase their access to and ease of doing business with a market of more than 70 million people.