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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It is a pleasure to welcome my colleague, Foreign Minister Muhriddin, here from Tajikistan.  We’re very, very pleased to be able to resume our annual bilateral consultations, something that had been in abeyance for the last several years.  We have a lot of work to do across a whole series of important issues that bring our countries together, whether it’s security, economic issues, development, democracy.  And I’m very, very pleased, Mr. Minister, to have you and your team here.  The minister has a very full program with a number of colleagues across the administration, including Secretary of Defense Austin, and we have, I know, good and hopefully productive work to be done.  So thank you very much for being here.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUHRIDDIN:  Thank you very much.  I am very glad to be here.  Of course, during these days we will discuss our bilateral issues, other regional and international, of course, issues.  We have very good format of cooperation also for regional issues, C5+1 —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUHRIDDIN:  And the most important issue, it is Afghanistan, and on these issues and on fighting against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and other important regional issues, the United States are a really reliable partner, and I hope that today and tomorrow we will again to consider all of these issues.  And next year we will celebrate 30 years of our bilateral diplomatic relations between our two countries.  And we will do our best for strengthening of our bilateral cooperation with our reliable partner, the United States.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, all.

U.S. Department of State

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