As part of our effort to deepen our relationship each Central Asian country, the United States initiated a series of annual bilateral consultations (ABC) that would address the broad range of our activities, from human rights to counter-terrorism. I hosted the first ABC in December 2009 when then-Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Norov came to Washington; I have just returned from Tashkent, where the Uzbekistan government graciously hosted a large U.S. delegation for the second ABC on February 17.
The meeting gave me an opportunity to reflect on the positive effect that this new dialogue has had on our bilateral relationship. The ABC has evolved into a valuable mechanism to channel the many ongoing discussions we have with the Uzbek government, and we made forward movement in many areas. I was pleased that the Uzbek government, led by First Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, brought wide representation from its government to the table, including National Security Advisor Ataev, which enabled us to conceive a work plan to enhance our cooperation in science and technology, business linkages, and trafficking in persons.
Uzbekistan also held its first U.S.-Uzbekistan Business Forum, which I opened with short remarks. I also had a chance to engage with civil society leaders and, at a “Chai Chat,” young Uzbeks. You can read an excerpt from the Chai Chat here. The chat provided an opportunity to glimpse the bright future of Uzbekistan's young people.