WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2010 – USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services’ Deputy Under Secretary Darci Vetter will travel to Turkey Sept. 26-30 for the second meeting of the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan Agricultural Trilateral Conference. More than 70 representatives from the three nations will attend the two-day forum in Istanbul to develop plans that address food security, trade and irrigation issues affecting Afghanistan and Pakistan alike. Vetter will also travel to Ankara, the capital, for discussions with Turkish officials about agricultural trade issues between Turkey and the United States.
"The Agricultural Trilateral is a clear demonstration of our nations coming together to strengthen economic and regional security for Afghans and Pakistanis," Vetter said. "We understand what is at stake. The flooding in Pakistan is the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history, affecting more than 20 million people and devastating the nation’s agricultural heartland. The United States has been working since the earliest days of the flooding to provide assistance to those it can reach and who need it most. In Afghanistan, U.S. civilian and military units continue to work alongside Afghans to deliver assistance and bolster Afghanistan’s agricultural sector, the traditional core of its economy."
The Agricultural Trilateral focuses on three areas: increasing food security, developing agricultural trade corridors, and improving irrigation technologies and watershed rehabilitation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Each nation is represented by one secretariat. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack selected Vetter as the U.S. Secretariat earlier this year.
The Agricultural Trilateral is a result of the trilateral meetings held in 2009 by the presidents of the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, wherein each leader pledged cooperation on collective security issues, expanding economic opportunities, bolstering the agricultural sector of each nation, and helping rebuild Pakistan’s industrial sector. In January in Doha, Qatar, the Agricultural Trilateral working groups met to identify key objectives. At this meeting in Turkey, the working groups will refine those plans and objectives so that program implementation may begin as soon as possible.