US-Uzbekistan Relations soared to new heights with the May 16 meeting between US President Donald Trump and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoev, a first time since 2002. The meeting between the US and Uzbek leaders was hailed as a ‘new era of a strategic partnership’ between the two countries.
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Donald Trump told the media that USA and Uzbekistan have been working very closely together on trade and the military. Uzbek authorities said it is interested in enlarging its military-technical cooperation with other countries, including the United States, particularly, in exchanging experience in defence and security.
Uzbekistan–US relations formally commenced when Washington recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an embassy in Tashkent in March 1992.
In regards to relations with Uzbekistan, a senior White House official said: “I would say that we are cautiously optimistic – optimistically cautious.” He said the meeting between the two leaders was a ‘window of opportunity’.
He added that the US didn’t always get such opportunities in Uzbek’s part of the world. “So we believe it is important to try and work with this government and encourage the kind of steps that we have seen.”
Uzbekistan is important to US interests in ensuring stability, prosperity and security in the broader Central Asian region. The US has provided security assistance to the country to further these goals. According to EA Daily Uzbek has made it clear that there must be no foreign military bases in its territory. And many Eurasian States are happy to hear this.
In 2001, the Americans launched their ‘war against terrorism’ for which they rented Uzbekistan’s Karshi-Khanabad military base. But in 2005, the then Uzbek President Islam Karimov refused to prolong the contract. And the present President Mirziyoyev is of the same opinion.
The Trump administration has acknowledged Uzbek’s progress in the implementation of crucial political, economic and social reforms but at the same time, highlighted problems related to human rights.
How the US Benefits From Uzbekistan?
For the Americans, the short-term benefit via Uzbekistan will be the support for the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) – the territories of Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The NDN is a key strategic alternative to the congested Pakistan Ground Line of Communication. According to experts, the US is looking at excluding Russia from this route and focus on Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Economy was also discussed at the historic meet but the Americans are not keen to invest in Uzbek. Their argument is that the country has no sufficient guarantees for investors. But as of now, US is treading with caution as Central Asia is also the playing field for China and Russia.
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