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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a pleasure to be here with Foreign Minister Meredov.  Rashid and I were together just about two months ago —


SECRETARY BLINKEN:  — at the C5+1 ministerial meeting, so it’s a particular pleasure to have you here now at the State Department.  Our countries have been working together for now 30 years.  We strongly support Turkmenistan’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its independence.  And more than that, we support the increasing work that we’re doing together to deal with challenges that our people face, including when it comes to climate change, including building stronger economic ties, including building our educational ties, working on human rights.

So I’m very pleased that we have this opportunity to pursue our dialogue, to pursue not only the work that we are doing with our C5+1 colleagues but bilaterally between our countries.  It’s a very welcome opportunity.  Rashid, welcome.  It’s good to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER MEREDOV:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Your Excellency.  First of all, I would like to express our gratitude to you personally for your invitation for receiving us here.  Today during our political consultations with our colleagues from the Department of State, we discussed a lot of issues regarding the recent – the cooperation between Turkmenistan and the United States in different fields – you mentioned about it – (inaudible), energy, economics, human rights.

Yes, this is a very important directions of our cooperation, and thank you very much for your very good – very good influence to the process of the extending of our cooperation in this and other fields.  And I very strongly believe that after my visit here in the United States, we will do everything for the increasing of this cooperation.  Thank you very much, Your Excellency.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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