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U.S.-Turkmenistan Cooperate On Drugs

Turkmenistan Government and Charge d' Affaires, Lynne Tracy. (file)
Turkmenistan Government and Charge d' Affaires, Lynne Tracy. (file)

A new amendment will expand Turkmenistan's security relationships with the international community.

The United States and Turkmenistan are stepping up their ongoing cooperation in the fields of narcotics control and law enforcement assistance. In a ceremony held at Turkmenistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ashgabat, the parties signed a 4th Amendment to the existing Letter of Agreement of September 2001 on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Assistance between the Government of the United States and the Government of Turkmenistan.

Deputy Chairman of Turkmenistan's Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov signed the Amendment on behalf of the Turkmenistan Government and Charge d' Affaires Lynne Tracy signed on behalf of the United States Government.

The Amendment extends support for the "English Language Training for Law Enforcement Officers, or ELT, and the Counternarcotics Capacity Building for State Counter Narcotics Services, or SCNS, projects. The goal of the ELT project is to improve the English language proficiency of Turkmenistan's law enforcement officers and to expand the current security relationships with the international community. The Counternarcotics Capacity Building project for SCNS is designed to increase the interdiction and investigative skills of counternarcotics police.

In its 2010 Drug Control Strategy report, the U.S. State Department notes that Turkmenistan "is a transshipment route for narcotics traffickers attempting to smuggle Afghan opiates to Turkish, Russian and European markets, by several different routes, including through Iran. Turkmenistan itself is not a major producer or source country for illegal drugs or precursor chemicals."

At a session of the State Security Council in June 2009, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted publicly that despite taking measures to control illicit drug trafficking, this "evil," as he called it, had not been eliminated. He also emphasized the need to intensify efforts to combat drug trafficking and drug abuse at both the national and international levels.

United States assistance to Turkmenistan's drug control efforts includes the construction of border crossing stations at Imamnazar on the border with Afghanistan, at Altin Asir on the Iranian border, and at Ferap on the border with Uzbekistan. The U.S. has funded English-language instruction for Turkmen law enforcement officers, as well as information exchanges ranging from forensics to canine drug detectors.

The U.S. is committed to working with its partner Turkmenistan in combating a common threat – international drug trafficking.