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Diplomacy in Action

Press Conference with Chairperson of the Interim Government Roza Otunbaeva


Press Conference
Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
April 14, 2010

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MS. OTUNBAEVA: Mr. Blake is the personal representative of Secretary of State Clinton. He came here to see first-hand the situation in our country and to discuss what we need to do at this critical hour. We just had meetings with him and we have an understanding of what is going on in the country and what kind of needs we have. The United States of America, as I understood from conversations with Secretary Clinton and with her personal representative, is ready to help Kyrgyzstan. We hope that they will help us get out of this situation as soon as possible.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Good afternoon, everybody. First of all, let me express my thanks to Ms. Otunbaeva for her hospitality today. As she said, we had a very good and productive meeting. Secretary Clinton sent me to Kyrgyzstan to first express support for the steps that the provisional government thus far has undertaken to restore democracy and to establish a time table to organize a new constitution and new elections in Kyrgyzstan. The United States is prepared to help and we discussed a number of ways that we could help in that regard. I look forward to meeting other members of the provisional government during my two days here. And again, I feel optimistic about the steps that the provisional government already has taken and we look forward to helping to support that process as it moves forward.

QUESTION: Mr. Blake, many members of the opposition who are now in the interim government have expressed disappointment with the American government during the Bakiyev time – that the United States put its interests in the base far above its interests in democracy and human rights here. How would you react to that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Well, I think I would disagree with that assessment. We have established a process with Kyrgyzstan and with all the other countries of Central Asia to try to boost our relations across the board on all issues, and we've been very clear with all those governments that a very important part of making progress in bilateral relations is making progress on human rights. Indeed, as many of you know, a delegation from Kyrgyzstan was preparing to come last week to Washington – it did come, in fact – for our first annual bilateral consultations with Kyrgyzstan, but we postponed those consultations because of the events that took place here last week. But human rights are a very important part of those consultations. We had planned a forum for the Kyrgyz delegation and me to meet with all of the human rights NGO's in the United States, and we were prepared to discuss, in detail, America's concerns about many of the restrictions on human rights and human rights violations that had occurred here. So this remains a very important part of our bilateral dialogue and again, we're encouraged by the progress that the provisional government has made in this regard, and we want to support their future efforts and to help to not only restore democracy, but also to restore respect for human rights in Kyrgyzstan.

(Translation)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Can I just say I have a lunch that I'm already late for. I'm going to be giving a full press conference tomorrow and I'll be glad to take as many questions as you have then. I can answer just one more question now.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Maxim Bakiyev's plane landed in the United States to attend that conference.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Yes.

QUESTION: Are you aware of his whereabouts?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I am not aware of his whereabouts and I did not meet with him while he was there.

(Translation)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I'm so sorry I can't take any more questions right now, but I would be happy to answer your questions tomorrow. Thank you.



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