A statement released by the U.S. Department of State on July 23 says that U.S. government officials from July 20-23 met with senior delegations from the five Central Asian countries in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to discuss progress under the three C5+1 Working Groups — Environment, Economic Connectivity, and Security.

The C5+1 is the primary regional diplomatic platform through which the United States and the five Central Asian republics cooperate to advance economic integration, mitigate environmental vulnerabilities, and strengthen security cooperation.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh led the U.S. delegation to the Economic Connectivity Working Group on July 20, in Almaty. During that event, Assistant Secretary Singh headed a conversation on bolstering connectivity and trade through increasing economic ties, during which USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Javier Piedra also briefed participants on current C5+1 economic projects and identified opportunities for future engagement.

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia Henry Ensher led the U.S. delegation to the Environment Working Group, held on July 20, in Almaty, which introduced the Central Asian Regional Electricity Market (CAREM) project to the C5+1.

Mr. Ensher also led the U.S. delegation to the Security Working Group on July 23, in Tashkent. Participants discussed regional counterterrorism efforts and border security cooperation, as well as efforts to counter violent extremism in the region and the launch of the first two Working Group projects. Those Working Groups projects focus on community engagement as a means to prevent radicalization to violence.

The C5+1 is a format for dialogue and a platform for joint efforts to address common challenges faced by the United States and the five Central Asian states.

At the first C5+1 ministerial, held in Samarkand in November 2015, the six foreign ministers agreed to focus on three sectors of common interest – security, economics, and environmental challenges.  At the second C5+1 ministerial, held in Washington in August 2016, the six ministers agreed to launch five projects across these three sectors, funded by a $15 million appropriation from the U.S. Congress.  A meeting of the C5+1 Security Working Group that took place in Dushanbe on July 26 last year discussed regional cooperation in counterterrorism and the threat of foreign terrorist fighters in Central Asia.

Since the inception of the C5+1 dialogue, the Central Asian countries have been increasingly interested in regional approaches and view the C5+1 as a catalyst for common action.