Roundup: Boucher in Central Asia

by Nathan Hamm on 8/11/2006

There has been a decent amount of coverage of Richard Boucher’s trip to Central Asia.

Both Kommersant (who give Felix Kulov a promotion) and RFE/RL report that the US and Kyrgyzstan have put aside their diplomatic spat. Boucher and Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Alikbek Jekshenkulov called the matter “closed” and said it would not affect relations.

While in Uzbekistan, Boucher held a press conference in which he shed some light on the message he delivered to the Uzbek government.

I have told everybody here that the United States very much values the independence and sovereignty of Uzbekistan. We congratulate Uzbekistan as it approaches its fifteenth year of independence. So our interest in cooperating with Uzbekistan is to help it find new opportunities to move forward with its independence. We are not here to play games. We are not here to try to contend with any other powers. We expect Uzbekistan to maintain all its ties with Russia, with China, with Europe, with Turkey and other nations.

We think we can help Uzbekistan to find other opportunities and other choices as well. And the more choices this nation or any nation has the more independence it has. I also said that we want to establish a new basis for cooperation. The areas that we identified in our strategic partnership statement of 2002 indeed remain valid. We agreed that we do have common interests in security issues, fighting terrorism, drugs, proliferation and things like that. We have interests in economic and business cooperation and all of the things that go with such cooperation. And we have an interest in the economic and political development of a healthy society here.

We obviously have very strong differences about the events in Andijon and the human rights situation. But we think that if we are going to establish the basis for cooperation then we can discuss some of these issues as well. So, we talked about these areas of common interests in practical ways. And we also talked in a practical way about the actions that are needed to try to rebuild trust, to try to achieve real cooperation in these areas. These were good discussions, these were thorough discussions. But I cannot tell you at this moment what will happen next. It will depend on what both sides actually do to pursue and develop this cooperation. For our part, we are willing to try. But we have to see what happens.

Interesting stuff and certainly deserving of more comment than I can give at the moment. Be sure to read the rest of the transcript though. There are some interesting exchanges.

Boucher also addressed Newmont’s ongoing troubles with the Uzbek government, calling the country an increasingly hostile environment for business. has more on Boucher’s press conference.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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