Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Tajikistan on October 22, 2011. Marking her first visit to the country, Secretary Clinton met with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi to discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues. Secretary Clinton also held a town hall meeting with women, youth, and civil society in Dushanbe.
After her meeting with Foreign Minister Zarifi, Secretary Clinton said, "... I want to say directly to the people of Tajikistan that the United States values the relationship and friendship between our two countries, and we are committed to a long-term partnership to advance the opportunities and brighten the future for the people of this absolutely beautiful country.
"I appreciated, too, the chance to discuss with the foreign minister and President Rahmon a wide range of issues that the foreign minister has just briefly described. We talked about our work to improve Tajikistan's security, particularly along your border with Afghanistan; to combat drug trafficking, which is threatening every nation in this region; and I want especially to praise Tajikistan for the progress you have made in fighting human trafficking, which was reflected in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report compiled by the United States State Department.
"I also want to emphasize that I thanked the president for the critical role Tajikistan has played in the international community's efforts to bring security and peace to Afghanistan. Tajikistan has been a strong partner, not only to us but to the 48 nations in the international forces. We have worked to defeat al-Qaida, to increase pressure on the Taliban, and to support an Afghan peace process aimed at ending the conflict and bringing wider stability to this region. And I conveyed my thanks on behalf of the United States government to the president."
In her remarks during a town hall meeting with women, youth, and civil society at the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe, Secretary Clinton said:
"...Tajikistan is at a critical moment in its history. The effects of post-Soviet rule can still be felt. But there is such a feeling of hope and progress. And this year, with the help of several Tajik NGOs and the International Organization on Migration, I saw a very impressive report about the efforts of stopping the traffickers who have forced women and children to work in the cotton fields.... I'm also told that rural projects are exercising their right to own land and choose which crops to grow. And farmers may include supply chains and connections to capital end markets.
"And more people in rural communities have access to safe drinking water. Pregnant women and families with young children are receiving better healthcare, and the polio outbreak from last year has subsided. We are very pleased and proud to support you in all of these and other efforts. Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, the United States has provided nearly $1 billion in assistance. But we know very well that it's not what comes from the outside, but what comes from the inside -- what comes from the hearts and minds and hard work of the people themselves. And we strongly support the right of Tajik citizens to receive a decent education, to own land, to enjoy a free and independent media, participate equally in the political process, and enjoy all of the universal rights that should be available to any man or woman. And we strongly believe that fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, should be protected for all people, young and old, men and women."
You can follow Secretary Clinton's travel here on www.state.gov.