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

The old Afghan city of Bamiyan northwest of Kabul was on the old Silk Road, linking China to Central Asia and beyond.

The old Afghan city of Bamiyan northwest of Kabul was on the old Silk Road, linking China to Central Asia and beyond.

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.

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.

"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.

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."

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