Central Asia and Its Asian Neighbors: Security and Commerce at the Crossroads
May 1, 2006
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The Asian states neighboring Central Asia have historic links and strong interests in that region. China, Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan are critical players in the security and economic issues that will determine the future of Central Asia and affect U.S. interests in the area. Each of these states is of importance to the United States, whether because of the war on terrorism, economic ties, arms control, nonproliferation, or other reasons. Regional states are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, which they fear might lead to a spillover of conflict onto their soil. They also fear the possibility of Pakistani activity and influence, which has led them to keep that state at arm's length.
A RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) study of neighboring Asian states' interests in and ties with Central Asia identifies the following trends:
U.S. intentions in Central Asia have been interpreted in various ways. China and Iran fear that U.S. military presence and security interests in the area have the dual purpose of containment. Conversely, Afghanistan would like to see a continued strong role for the United States in combating militancy and fostering stability, and Pakistan and India see the potential for security cooperation in the region with the United States. Despite the divergent perspectives of their Asian neighbors, the Central Asian states continue to see a role for the United States in promoting stability in the region.
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