The United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan have announced a new Quad Regional Support Group for Afghan peace process. “Representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity,” Foreign Office said in a statement issued here on Friday. “The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan is critical to regional-connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity and mutually reinforcing,” it added. “Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing international trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties,” the statement said. “The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus,” the statement added. The US State Department also issued the same statement and said on Twitter that it looked forward to partnering with the three countries for regional cooperation, terming it a “cornerstone to a sustained peace”. The development came during the international conference on “Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities” in Uzbekistan. The conference had originally been intended to discuss building better transportation links across Central and South Asia, but that agenda was trumped by the Taliban advances. Participants gathering in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent traded stinging criticisms and engaged in finger-pointing over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.