UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
20. The most influential single external power active
in the region is the United States. The US has definite policy
interests in this part of the world, motivated by the existence
of substantial energy resources as much as by geopolitical concerns.
There are two special US envoys who cover the region, Ambassadors
Richard Morningstar and Stephen Sestanovich, both of whom make
regular visits. There is a heavy US diplomatic presence, as Table
1 illustrates. US policy towards Iran is designed to neutralise
any Iranian influence in the region. To this end the US has been
an active opponent of any proposal to construct oil or gas pipelines
across Iranian territory. The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act places
considerable restrictions upon US firms seeking to do business
A Bill recently passed by the US Senate, and now before the House
of Representatives, seeks to bolster the policy of the Administration
towards the political and economic development of the region.
US Diplomatic Presence in South Caucasus
and Central Asia
|Country||Number of US diplomats
Source: FCO, Evidence
21. Some Central Asian republics are seeking to develop
their own foreign policy doctrines to safeguard their positions.
In Ashgabat we heard of the principle of permanent neutrality
adopted by the Government of Turkmenistan and confirmed by the
Turkmen Medjlis. This was the subject of a resolution of the UN
General Assembly in December 1995, which recognised and supported
Turkmenistan's permanent neutrality and called upon Member States
to respect it.
The President of the Kyrgyz Republic has attempted to develop
further a foreign policy doctrine based on partnership of all
countries associated with the ancient trading routes of the Silk
There have been attempts to hold regular meetings of the three
Heads of State of the South Caucasus, although the Nagorno-Karabakh
dispute, which we discuss below, has made co-operation difficult.
As we have mentioned above
Uzbekistan has recently joined the alternative security grouping
of CIS nations comprising Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Azerbaijan
to form an alignment known as GUUAM.
22. At present the four regional powers appear to
have established an uneasy balance of power, and no one country
has a dominant influence. It is clearly not in the United Kingdom's
interests that the independent states of the region should fall
into the sphere of influence of one regional power. Nor should
the United States be allowed to gain a predominant influence over