ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Good morning. It’s a pleasure for me to be back in Dushanbe.
I appreciated very much the opportunity to meet this morning with His Excellency President Rahmon. I told the President that the United States values our partnership with Tajikistan. The United States wants to work with the government of Tajikistan to help build a secure and free and prosperous future for the people of Tajikistan.
We established the mechanism of annual bilateral consultations to expand engagement of the United States with Tajikistan. We’re both committed to make progress on the full range of priorities on our bilateral agenda from security cooperation to improving the economy here in Tajikistan to improving democracy and human rights here.
I told President Rahmon that Secretary Clinton looks forward to welcoming him to New York for the meetings of the UN General Assembly.
I’ll be giving a longer press conference this afternoon at 5:00 o’clock, but I’d be glad to take a few questions now.
QUESTION: [The question was about whether we will establish a base in Tajikistan].
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: It is not correct. We have no plans to establish bases here in Tajikistan.
QUESTION: We know that you were speaking about the situation in Afghanistan. You said that in Afghanistan there are some forces that could penetrate Kyrgyzstan through their engagement in, advance, pose as threats to Tajikistan’s stability. Is that correct?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I don’t want to talk about specific extremist movements or anything like that. Let me just say that we have very good cooperation with the government of Tajikistan on strengthening border controls here in Tajikistan and in strengthening counter-narcotics cooperation, to stop the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan through Tajikistan into the rest of Central Asia and Russia and beyond. This is a matter that both of our governments pay very close attention to and attach a great deal of importance to.
QUESTION: How do you evaluate the future cooperation between Tajikistan and the United States [The question was about USAID]? What can you say about any new programs and projects of such cooperation?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: I evaluate our cooperation as very good. The United States has a very large assistance program here and we’re working in a wide range of fields. In fact we’re increasing our assistance this year by about ten percent. Again, I think we appreciate very much the cooperation that we have here in Tajikistan and look forward to building on that record of cooperation.
Thank you very much for your time. If there are further questions I’d be glad to address them this afternoon.