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Robert Blake: “Non-lethal Afghan-bound military cargoes are crossing Uzbekistan”

February 18, 2011

The following article is reprinted with permission from Ferghana News Agency.

Robert Blake:  “Non-lethal Afghan-bound military cargoes are crossing Uzbekistan”
©  Ferghana
February 18, 2011

The U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan hosted a news conference on 18 February 2011 with the participation of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr. following his visit to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Touching upon the issue of Afghanistan, Mr Blake said a political solution must be found for the current situation in Afghanistan. He reminded that a NATO session in Lisbon in November 2010 discussed a gradual transfer of security provision to afghan national forces, i.e. local law enforcing agencies, military, etc.

“American troops will withdraw from this country only when the transfer is complete. At the moment we are planning to reach that point in 2014,” Mr Blake told journalists.

In response to a question on his opinion about using the Uzbek territory for transiting military cargo to Afghanistan, he said “all the military-affiliated cargoes, which are currently crossing the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan, are non-lethal.”

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the government of Uzbekistan for making it possible,” Mr Blake asserted.

Mr Blake has briefly mentioned a bilateral intergovernmental session on Thursday and said it was a successful one. According to Mr Blake, issues pertaining to cooperation in the field of security, economy, politics, and scientific and technical cooperation were discussed during the meeting. Mr Blake said human rights and civil society in Uzbekistan were part of the conversation.

Journalists asked Mr Blake to provide more details concerning the Uzbek-American discussions on human rights issues, but Mr Blake only said “a productive discussion took place in this regard.”

“We touched upon many specific issues. In particular, we discussed President Karimov’s recent speech when he expressed Uzbekistan’s hope and aspiration to develop civil society and freedom of press. We also discussed such important issues as freedom of faith and human trafficking. The U.S. delegation proposed assistance in resolving these this year.”

Ferghana International News Agency


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