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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a real pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Kamilov here.  We’ve had the opportunity to work together over many years with a little bit of an interruption on my part, but it’s an honor to continue to be working with you again.

And we were just together with our colleagues from Central Asia on a video conference just a few days ago.  But this is the now 30th year of bilateral relations between our countries and it’s something we value very, very much.  We appreciate the strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and the United States, the work that’s being done through that; very much welcome the strong humanitarian support that you’ve been providing to the Afghans on one hand and now Ukrainians on the other.

We are, we will remain absolutely committed to Uzbekistan’s sovereignty, its territorial independence, its – and integrity, and very much look forward to this timely discussion, given so many of the challenges that we’re facing together in the immediate region and beyond.

So again, Abdulaziz, welcome.  Very good to have you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KAMILOV:  Dear Secretary Blinken, first of all, thank you very much for inviting the delegation of Uzbekistan and receiving us in spite of your so busy schedule.  And we arrived in Washington to discuss the wide range of issues with respect to (inaudible) our bilateral relations as well as some regional and international issues.  And thank you very, very much for your support of independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Uzbekistan, as well as other Central Asian countries.

Today we are planning to discuss many issues, and we – especially our bilateral relations within the framework of the Strategic Partnership Dialogue, and we have prepared the next session, which will be held here in Washington later this year.  During the negotiations, our delegation plans to pay special attention to the further expansion of trade and investment, as well as cultural and humanitarian ties.

Of course, (inaudible) Uzbek-American cooperation is the dialogue within the framework of the C5+1, and our last meeting with you was very, very successful.  We also plan to exchange views, regional security issues, in particular the situation in Afghanistan, as well as discuss the measures that should be taken to prevent first of all the humanitarian crisis in (inaudible), and also – also have some ideas we want to share with you, my colleagues, first of all (inaudible) and my colleagues from (inaudible) foreign affairs.

Once again, thank you very much for inviting us.


U.S. Department of State

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