Pompeo Arrives In Uzbekistan For Final Stop Of Five-Nation Tour

TASHKENT — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was greeted by Uzbek Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov on February 3 after landing in Uzbekistan’s capital where he will conclude the last leg of his trip to eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Pompeo is scheduled on the same day to take part in the “C5+1” meeting with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

“We’ll talk about security matters for sure, we’ll talk about economic integration amongst those countries, and we’ll talk about how each of these nations can transform their own countries” in terms of political freedoms, economic conditions, and human rights, Pompeo said earlier in the trip.

A separate meeting with Uzbek President Mirziyoev and Kamilov is also scheduled.

Mirziyoev, a former prime minister, became president after predecessor Islam Karimov’s death was announced in September 2016. Karimov had ruled Central Asia’s most populous country with an iron fist since before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mirziyoev has taken steps to bolster the country’s struggling economy and to implement reforms in Uzbekistan — where rights abuses had been widespread under Karimov.

Still, rights watchdogs have expressed concerns about conditions in Uzbekistan. Freedom House, for instance, ranked Uzbekistan “not free” in its Freedom On The Net 2018 assessment and said the Internet environment there remained “repressive.”

Uzbekistan also has sizable oil and gas reserves, and it has been seen as a counterweight to Russian and Chinese influence in the region. It has allied with Washington in the war in Afghanistan and the fight against radical Islamist fighters.

Pompeo arrived from Kazakhstan where he met with President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev and his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbaev. He also met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on February 1 and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on January 31.

He began his trip in Britain on January 29 and had meetings with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

With reporting by Dunyo news agency
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