ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER SAIDOV: Honorable Secretary Blinken, I would like to start by saying welcome to Uzbekistan, to Tashkent. We are very glad to see you visiting our country for the first time. We believe that your visit will advance our broad relations. Two weeks ago, on February 19th, we marked the 31st anniversary of the diplomatic ties between Uzbekistan and the U.S., and over the years our cooperation has grown substantially across all areas of our bilateral and regional collaboration, including C5+1.
I congratulate you on successful and productive C5+1 ministerial that took place yesterday in Astana, and I carefully listened to your remarks and evaluation, actually, on the situation in Central Asia and on the whole world also. And I want to underline that we share common priorities for a prosperous, stable, and peaceful Central Asia.
We appreciate the U.S. administration’s continued support for President Mirziyoyev’s reform agenda aimed at ensuring good governance, rule of law, human rights, as well as deepening good and friendly relationships with our neighbors.
This year, Tashkent will host the third session of the Strategic Partnership Dialogue. And since its establishment, this platform has proven its efficiency, and it’s based on mutual trust, openness, and pragmatism.
I look forward to our constructive discussions today and on shared priorities for expanding cooperation between Uzbekistan and the United States in political dimension, commerce and investment, science and technology, education, and human capacity building.
Your Excellency, please, the floor is yours for introductory remarks.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Bakhtiyor, thank you very, very much, and assalamu alaikum to everyone. It’s a great pleasure to be here in Tashkent. Bakhtiyor, I left Astana yesterday, said goodbye to you, and then when I arrived here, there you were at the bottom of the plane to say hello. So you performed a feat of magic to get back here even ahead of us. But I’m really pleased to be here, pleased for the day that we had yesterday both on a bilateral basis but also, of course, with our C5+1 colleagues. And I agree with you – I think there was a tremendous sense of both common challenge and common purpose among the C5+1 countries.
But it’s also a particular pleasure to be here. Grateful for the hospitality. I’m looking forward to the day before us, and very much appreciate our dynamic relationship – Uzbekistan’s leadership in the C5+1, which we heard yesterday, our bilateral cooperation, which continues to strengthen, and of course the president’s reform agenda, which I look forward to hearing more about when I get a chance to see him later.
So thank you very much for the warm welcome and I’m looking forward to getting down to work.
ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER SAIDOV: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.