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Myanmar political transition is opportunity to connect Asia:US

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

As the Obama Administration pushed for an integrated trade landscape in Asia, a top US official said that the political transition in Myanmar provides a vital opportunity to connect regions of South Asia and India is well placed to benefit from this development.

"When (US) President (Barack) Obama talks about the rebalance to Asia, this is fundamentally the vision that he's talking about, the vision of an Asian landscape that is bound together in trade and commerce, a vision of an integrated trade landscape," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said.

The ongoing political transition in Myanmar creates an enormous opportunity to connect India, Bangladesh, the countries of South Asia to the countries of Southeast Asia, she said.

"India has already recognised that enormous potential and has already started lining up its own investments and infrastructure in capacity," Biswal said adding that the US and countries of Asia are very interested in supporting that connectivity.

Referring to a recent Asian Development Bank study, she said Asian economies have the potential in the coming decades to comprise 50 per cent of global GDP.

"That's not a probability, but that is definitely a possibility. To make that possibility become a reality, the countries of the region need to address challenges of inclusive growth, of improved governance, of combating corruption, of diversifying their economies and engaging in investing in the citizens of their countries," she said.

"These are all areas that the United States stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the countries of Asia, to ensure that that vision of Asian prosperity and Asia's role in creating a shared prosperity around the globe is realised," Biswal said and referred to the two projects CASA-100 and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline).

"We're working with our partners in the region on major energy trade customs and people-to-people projects that support that connectivity. CASA-1000, which is creating an energy grid that bring surplus hydropower from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to meet energy needs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is ever closer to being a reality, and we've narrowed that financing gap considerably," Biswal said.

"TAPI, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline that would seek to bring Turkmen gas to meet the energy needs of, again, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, is again ever closer to becoming a reality, and we look forward to working with the countries in the region to address the remaining challenges," she said.

The work done over the past decade in investing in road and infrastructure in Afghanistan and across the region is all about supporting that integrated landscape, she added.

"So this vision is one of tremendous potential. And it's a vision that is not of the US making. It's a vision that's really of the region," she said.

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First Published: Wed, December 04 2013. 09:35 IST