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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a great pleasure to be here with Minister Muhriddin.  We were just in New York together, but very glad to have you in Washington and to continue to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Tajikistan.  We’ve been working together for – as partners for 30 years and we have a lot more to do in these very volatile, challenging times.  I’m pleased that there’s been a ceasefire in the border conflict with Kyrgyzstan.  That is encouraging; we hope that it continues. 

At the same time, we are working to deepen our partnerships with all of our Central Asian friends.  We had an important ministerial meeting at UN last week, the so-called C5+1, where, among other things, we worked on as a partner helping to build greater economic resilience among the countries of Central Asia and were able to work on a broad array of issues and talk about everything, including concerns that we have about human rights, the treatment of journalists.  But we’re in challenging times where our partnership, our work together – both on a bilateral basis between the United States and Tajikistan, but also among the C5 countries with us – is increasingly important, and the United States in that is an enduring partner.

Mr. Minister. 

FOREIGN MINISTER MUHRIDDIN:  Thank you.  First of all, I would like to thank my dear colleague, State Secretary Mr. Blinken, for inviting me to visit today the State Department.  I would like to note that we this year marked 30th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations between our two countries.  And since formation, our friendly relations between our two countries have expanded and taken a new context.  My government highly value its cooperation with the Government of the United States.  And I relay to my colleague that together we will discuss today, first of all, the trade and economics of issues; the realization of different projects in education, agriculture, water supply, and other spheres of economy through USAID.  And as mentioned by my dear colleague, most important, of course, for us, it is the security, regional security issues in our region, particularly the issues related to Afghanistan.  I hope that we will discuss today all of these issues and we are very interest in (inaudible) close cooperation in the future on all of these issues with the United States.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.

U.S. Department of State

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