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Interview with AUCC Chairperson Carolyn Lamm Before 2012 Uzbekistan-US Annual Business Forum

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U.S. engagement in Central Asia

24 July 2012


Robert O. Blake, Jr.

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia 
Washington, DC
July 24, 2012

Chairman Burton, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak today on the status of U.S. engagement in Central Asia. I would particularly like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for all you have done to support our efforts, including your leadership of one of the largest Congressional delegations ever to Central Asia earlier this month. The high level reception you received testifies to the desire of our Central Asian partners to strengthen relations with the United States and your visit was a major step in that direction. So, thanks to you and the other members of your delegation for making this grueling but very productive trip.

In my testimony today, I would like to review our regional priorities with Central Asia, and then discuss briefly each country.

Central Asia is an increasingly important region to the United States, and we work with each country on a broad range of policy priorities. The Obama Administration's review of Central Asia policy identified a number of key strategic priorities, ranging from enhanced support for Afghanistan to economic development, including the economic empowerment of women, energy cooperation, promotion of democracy and human rights, and working together to combat transnational threats such as narcotics trafficking and violent extremism. The countries of Central Asia are an important part of our vision of a secure and stable Afghanistan integrated into a stable, secure, and prosperous region. The drawdown of forces from Afghanistan between now and 2014 makes our engagement with Central Asia even more critical. Through our annual bilateral consultation mechanism, or in the case of Kazakhstan, a strategic partnership dialogue, we seek to achieve increased cooperation on regional security and support for Afghanistan; greater economic and commercial ties; progress on democracy and human rights issues such as preventing trafficking in persons, freedom of religion, greater space for political expression, and support for civil society; and enhanced scientific, cultural and educational cooperation.

Full text is here.