About the Author: Joshua Peffley serves as Public Affairs Assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
On Thursday, December 2, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made her second trip to Uzbekistan, having visited as First Lady in November 1997, when she traveled to Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. Her current trip marks the first visit by a Secretary of State since Colin Powell in December 2001, and reaffirms the importance of the U.S. relationship with Uzbekistan.
Prior to arriving in Uzbekistan, Secretary Clinton paid visits to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. She served as the head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 2010 Summit of the Heads of State or Government held December 1-2 in Astana. The summit was only the seventh of its kind convened by the OSCE since the organization's inception in 1973, the last taking place in Istanbul in 1999. This year the parties focused on improving border security, promoting regional trade, and countering trafficking in Central Asia, and were hosted by current OSCE chair Kazakhstan.
In Uzbekistan, Secretary Clinton met with President Islam Karimov to discuss a wide range of matters in the U.S.-Uzbek relationship and in regional affairs. She and Uzbekistan's First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov signed the U.S.-Uzbekistan Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement. This agreement will provide a framework under which U.S. Government agencies, Government of Uzbekistan ministries, U.S. and Uzbek institutes, universities, and research centers, and possibly private companies can cooperate in the field of science, technology, and education. Secretary Clinton also met with civil society leaders to listen to their perspectives on a variety of topics.
Secretary Clinton's visit to Uzbekistan is part of the continued efforts to deepen relations between the United States and Uzbekistan in all of the key dimensions in our bilateral relationship -- political, security, economic and human. "This administration considers Central Asia to be an important pillar of our security policy and regional U.S. interests," Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said at subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee on November 17. "We must increase our engagement with Central Asia at all levels," said David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, at the same hearing.
After her meetings in Tashkent, the Secretary departed for Bahrain, where she will deliver the keynote address at the 2010 Manama Dialogue, a regional security summit sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Secretary Clinton is traveling to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, and Bahrain November 30 - December 3. Learn more about her trip here.