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Afghan Neighbors Discuss Reviving 'Silk Road'

Afghanistan and its neighbors are discussing reviving Silk Road trade links.
Afghanistan and its neighbors and allies, including the United States, have met to discuss reviving the ancient "silk road" across Central Asia.

About 25 countries, including Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia, met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss how Central Asian countries could become more interlinked through trade.

The Silk Road once linked merchants traveling from China to Turkey, carrying goods ranging from gems to textiles and spices.

Its modern-day version would include economic projects like the Trans-Afghanistan project, a planned natural-gas pipeline that would snake its way from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and into India.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also attended, said stronger regional economic links could help prepare Afghanistan for after 2014 when coalition forces are due to pull out of the country.

"As coalition combat forces leave Afghanistan, the support structure that has grown up will shrink and it will mean fewer jobs for Afghans and a loss for the Afghan economy," said Clinton.

Clinton said she hoped a new Silk Road would convince Afghanistan's neighbors that their stability and prosperity were linked to that of Afghanistan.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the project to revive the Silk Road would be taken up at an international peace conference on Afghanistan to be held in Germany in December.

compiled from agency reports