The governments of Uzbekistan and the United States have decided to upgrade the annual bilateral political consultations between the countries into the Strategic Partnership Dialogue. This is stated in a joint statement following the eighth round of consultations, which took place on November 20 in Washington with the participation of the Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson.
As part of the new dialogue, Uzbekistan and the United States intend to develop closer cooperation in the political, security, economical, and the human dimension areas. The first dialogue is planned to be held in Tashkent in 2021.
At the consultations, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to the strategic partnership ties and support for fundamental Uzbekistan reforms. In 2019, the U.S. assistance program to Uzbekistan grew to almost $ 100 million, which is 10 times more than in 2016.
The United States called for deepening ties on a wide range of political, economic, education, health, security, culture and other areas.
The statement also underscored the "significant potential for strengthening cooperation in many areas that will serve the interests of both peoples, as well as peace and stability in Central Asia."
Regional security and cooperation
The parties announced their intention to strengthen cooperation and increase exchanges to promote regional security, recognizing the serious threats posed to Uzbekistan and the United States by international terrorism, violent extremism, human trafficking and transnational crime.
This year, the United States is committed to providing over US$ 9 million in assistance to combat transnational organized crime, rule of law, and anti-corruption initiatives.
The consultations reiterated the countries' commitment to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan and discussed concrete steps to advance a constructive reconciliation process.
Uzbekistan and the United States also confirmed their common interest in promoting multilateral cooperation across the entire Central Asian region, including through the C5+1 platform.
Economic reforms and investments
Supporting Uzbekistan's drive for economic reform and an improved investment environment, the United States called for further steps towards greater economic liberalization and transparency.
Noting the serious economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to assist Uzbekistan in its efforts "to combat the impact of the second and third waves of the global pandemic."
The parties emphasized "increasing opportunities for bilateral trade and investment, including opportunities for US exporters and public tenders," as well as the opening of a special office by the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan to support US investments.
The United States stressed the importance of cooperation in the digital economy and cybersecurity, as well as support for the economic empowerment of women and their encouragement in terms of their leadership.
The parties also noted "the potential for close cooperation in the field of energy, health and the environment, information and communication technologies, tourism development."
In addition, the United States reaffirmed its support for Uzbekistan's efforts to pursue economic policy reforms, including in the process of joining the World Trade Organization.
Strengthening the people-to-people ties
Uzbekistan and the United States discussed concrete steps to expand educational and cultural exchanges “to provide today's youth with the skills needed for future leaders, including plans to return US Peace Corps volunteers to Uzbekistan, support for cultural preservation programs, and significantly expanding teacher programs. and students in the study and teaching of English, mathematics and reading. "
The United States acknowledged Uzbekistan's progress on reforms to improve human rights protection, combat forced labor, expand religious freedom, and welcomed Uzbekistan's election to the UN Human Rights Council for 2021-2023.
The countries reaffirmed their "commitment to further institutionalize Uzbekistan's reforms in the field of human rights, human trafficking, religious freedom, the development of an active civil society and independent media, noting that these elements are the basis for long-term prosperity, stability and development, as well as for deep and strong friendship between the two countries. "
The importance of “more gender-sensitive and socially inclusive policies and practices that enhance educational, professional and leadership opportunities” was also reaffirmed.
To improve the resilience of the healthcare system Uzbekistan, the parties pledged to continue cooperation in the field of health, including the fight against infectious diseases and ensuring the availability of essential health services.