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American Forces Press Service

Central and South Asian Security Conference Concludes

American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART-VAIHINGEN, Germany, Jan. 14, 2005 -- Government officials from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan ended three days of meetings Jan. 13 at the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies at Garmisch, Germany.

The group exchanged views on enhancing regional cooperation in addressing common transnational security issues, including terrorism, production and trafficking of illicit narcotics and border security. U.S. Central Command and the Marshall Center co-hosted the conference.

Officials from other governments and organizations, including the United States, also took part.

In an official statement, participants said they "were enthusiastic about the opportunity provided by the conference in creating a useful forum for discussion of broad-ranging regional security challenges." They agreed they must continue to address these challenges through interaction and more cooperation among states in the region and others.

In the statement, they also proposed several ways to enhance regional cooperation. "Participants believe effective regional cooperation in addressing the issues of counternarcotics, border security and counterterrorism mandates open dialog and regular and sustained communications among the nations represented during the conference at the appropriate functional levels," they stated. They noted that attendees would report to their governments on conference discussions and would "seek means of implementing ideas to improve communications and information sharing across the region."

The next conference is planned for September. The statement concluded that participants would work between now and then to communicate with each other "to determine where and how conference suggestions might be implemented."

"This has been a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of the nations that are linked by geography, as well as by the challenges they face," said Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, who heads Combined Forces Command Afghanistan. "This first conference is an incredibly progressive step forward in a cooperative process. The conference provided a unique and frank forum for discussion of regional security challenges. Similar follow-on discussions in the future can prove extremely useful in implementing specific measures to enhance regional cooperation."

The Marshall Center co-hosted the conference with the Afghanistan command. The center brought a faculty with wide range of expertise in security issues and a staff of conference specialists skilled in hosting such meetings in its home base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and in countries throughout Europe and Central Asia.

"We're happy to have co-hosted the conference and to be part of the team that's helping these countries address their common concerns," said Marshall Center director Dr. John P. Rose. "Security issues don't always align themselves along neat geographical lines, so being able to team with organizations such as Combined Forces Command Afghanistan gives us all the ability to address issues of strategic importance to the nations involved, Germany and the United States."

(Based on a news release from U.S. European Command.)

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