Armenia finds itself in an unfriendly neighborhood and engaged in a highly militarized 20-year territorial dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. It has long pulled off a diplomatic coup, maintaining simultaneous close relations with Iran, Russia and the United States, all three of which it relies on for protection, investment and trade.
The U.S. has started to formulate and implement more comprehensive policies for Central Asia. The deepening involvement in the war in Afghanistan is the principal, but not sole cause for this policy initiative. Russia’s attempts to impose its hegemony upon Central Asia and oblige the U.S. to recognize it have triggered a reaction in Washington. Likewise, China’s completion of the pipeline to Turkmenistan and major investment projects in Central Asia forced the U.S. to devise new ways to enhance its energy and economic profile there as well. As a result, in early 2010, we now see the elements of a new and stronger policy initiative towards Central Asia.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, visited Uzbekistan as part of a tour of several Central Asian states during February 17-21. At that time, Holbrooke held talks with Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, regarding the US-led offensive in Afghanistan and related international efforts to promote regional security.
Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, visited Uzbekistan on February 19 as part of a series of meetings across the Central Asian capitals to boost regional support for the military campaign in Afghanistan, as well as cultivating closer collaboration with Uzbekistan. Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, and Holbrooke discussed a range of issues, emphasizing the importance of bilateral efforts aimed at bringing stability to Afghanistan.
In an exclusive interview, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with RFE/RL correspondents Brian Whitmore and Abubakar Siddique about the U.S. administration's policy on Russia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Biden assured Central and Eastern Europeans of the United States' commitment to the region, and said that the United States will not ignore concerns about democracy in dealing with Iran on its nuclear program.