U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake recently led an interagency delegation to Tajikistan that included representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Second Annual Bilateral Consultations.
"The United States attaches great importance to our relations with Tajikistan," Assistant Secretary Blake said. "Our discussions touched on a wide range of areas ... [and] practical ways to work together towards a lasting partnership."
Assistant Secretary Blake said that discussion included the cooperation in securing Tajikistan’s borders, and in fighting violent extremists, as well as Tajikistan’s assistance in the stabilization of Afghanistan. He outlined steps that the Tajik government could take to attract U.S. business, including simplifying the tax code and reducing corruption. He also brought up the importance of religious freedom, media freedom, and United States' support for a multi-party system.
"I expressed appreciation for the government’s significant efforts to combat trafficking in persons," Assistant Secretary Blake said. "[We also] discussed how United States assistance can shore up food security and health in Tajikistan."
In addition to the government meetings, Assistant Secretary Blake met with several young Tajiks who participated in U.S./Tajikistan exchange programs. He met with members of the local chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, and discussed how Tajikistan can attract more investment from U.S. firms.
He also met with representatives from Tajikistan’s political parties including the Islamic Revival Party. "We noted the upcoming May 15th special election and the importance of improving the polling process along the lines of the recommendations from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Finally, Assistant Secretary Blake had a roundtable with several media editors, and told them that the United States would continue to urge the government to protect media freedom.
"The United States seeks a peaceful, free and prosperous future for Tajikistan and its people," Assistant Secretary Blake said in conclusion. "[W]e continue to assist in that effort."