The United States is planning to focus more on promoting reconciliation between the Afghan government and relatively moderate Taliban elements, Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said on January 7.
The United States is expanding its use of the Northern Distribution Network to ship military goods through Central Asia to Afghanistan, top State and Defense Department officials have told Congress. US officials also reiterated their belief that the NDN can serve as a catalyst for economic development in Central Asia.
An American task force funded by the government of Kazakhstan to prepare a series of reports about the Central Asian country's upcoming OSCE chairmanship has completed its final report, which puts forth a generally positive interpretation of the country's controversial human rights record.
Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan all showed significant decreases in corruption over the past year, according to a recently published worldwide survey by a Berlin-based watchdog group. The survey also showed that Armenia's rating declined, and the rest of the Central Asian states remained near the bottom of the rankings.
"I had to do some 'diplomatic PR,'" explained Albert Yu-Min Lin, the group's leader, in a speech earlier this year. "I established collaborations with the academics, politicians and media sources that I needed to make a campaign to make it OK for us to do this search."
The government of Kazakhstan has hired a Washington lobbying firm to try to change regulations that require countries to make progress on human rights in order to receive US aid. Kazakhstani officials have indicated that they would prefer to not get the money at all, rather than be subjected to the "insulting" standards.
Already, private companies are creating ambitious projects to generate income from Genghis' legacy. One company, GENCO Tours, built a 40-meter stainless steel statue about an hour's drive from Ulaanbaatar. It is a popular destination for Mongolians and foreign tourists.
That China would so honor Genghis Khan, whose Mongol armies overwhelmed China in the 13th century and ruled it for more than a century, would seem unlikely. But Beijing, in an attempt to keep a close hold on its Mongolian minority, now reasons that since Genghis conquered China, he can be treated as a Chinese hero.