The United States and Kazakhstan are exploring the idea of expanding the amount of military cargo passing through Kazakhstan into and out of Afghanistan. The focal point of the discussions is the Caspian port city of Aktau.
Kazakhstani authorities want to turn Aktau into a major regional transit hub, enlarging the port, expanding the municipal airport’s cargo capacity and constructing new rail routes to Turkmenistan and Iran. They are also intent on integrating their vision for Aktau into the US-backed concept of a New Silk Road, which aims to build up a regional transit network that would help stabilize Afghanistan following the pullout of US and NATO troops.
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Joshua Kucera is the editor of Eurasianet's Bug Pit blog who also writes on military security issues elsewhere. This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.