Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
(Introduction in Tajik by moderator)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Let me say first and foremost it's a great pleasure to be back in Tajikistan. Flying over the country today, seeing the beautiful mountains, seeing the green crops coming up, it was just - it really made another strong impression on me. And I was happy to be able to come back with our Ambassador Jacobson to meet with President Rahmon and with Foreign Minister Zarifi. We talked about a lot of topics. I wanted to come out at this time to talk about Afghanistan and about the new administration's policy on Afghanistan. One of the areas of emphasis of the policy is working with countries in the region. Today I talked with leaders here about how we can work together to protect borders, work together to stop narcotics, and work together to develop the economic opportunities of an open Afghanistan that trades with its neighbors. The United States has been a strong partner for Tajikistan in a whole range of areas, from humanitarian support during difficult winters, to opening up the economy, and supporting the cause of political reform. We talked about how to continue and expand our work in all these areas. I told the president that our president, President Obama, is very interested in this region and wants us to continue to expand our activities and our relationships here. I'd be glad to take a couple questions and we'll do more tomorrow.
QUESTION: Did you sign an agreement with the US TransCom about the transit of non-lethal goods for Afghanistan across the territory of Tajikistan and when this agreement will start working.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think the agreement will start operating soon. At this point it's really just a matter of working out commercial arrangements, looking at cargoes, how they can best flow through this region. This support for the supply lines for Afghanistan is an issue we've worked with many countries, from Russia all the way down through Tajikistan. Now it's just a matter of working out practical arrangements and moving cargoes.
QUESTION: You mentioned that you planned to expand economic cooperation, how do you plan to do this? An international organization released a report and audit about not to trust Tajikistan. How do you respond?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I value very much the work of scholars who work on this region. I meet sometimes with representatives from the International Crisis Group and other think tanks. I always find it interesting to read what they say. But they write reports and we make the policy. The United States has been involved with Tajikistan. We'll stay involved with Tajikistan, and we'll continue to work together in areas where we both benefit. Policy comes from the elected leaders of the United States. And that's what they want, so that's what we'll continue to do.
Thank you very much it's good to see you, we'll see you again tomorrow.