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World > Middle East > Uzbekistan > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Uzbekistan - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS
The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations had flourished but have become strained since the changes in government in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-05 and especially since the violent events in Andijon in May 2005. Relations had been boosted by the March 2002 meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC, where the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership. Although high-level visits to Uzbekistan increased after September 11, 2001, including those of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations, they declined after the Andijon events of May 2005.

The U.S. believes that the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia is vital for the inhabitants of Central Asia and the entire world. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan traditionally has played a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has sought to develop a broad relationship covering political, human rights, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, education, health, and related issues. In 2007 the two nations engaged in discussions exploring ways to advance cooperation and engagement in areas where cooperation has been strong, in areas to realize the potential cooperation, and in areas where serious differences remain. In the past, the U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan had been an ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan supported the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, and nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has occasionally sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In the past, Uzbekistan viewed its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan also supported U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and of the global war against terror. However, this support, both military and at the United Nations, has diminished significantly in the aftermath of the May 2005 Andijon events and continuing strains in the U.S.-Uzbekistan bilateral relationship.

The tumultuous events in Andijon in May 2005 and the subsequent U.S. condemnation of President Karimovs actions rendered the future relationship between the two nations uncertain. In June 2005, Karimov refused international and U.S. demands for a formal investigation of the Andijon events, exacerbating the divide between the two nations. Also in June 2005, the Government of Uzbekistan effectively expelled the Peace Corps by failing to renew volunteers visas. In July 2005, Uzbekistan asked U.S. forces to leave an airbase that had been used to fight the war against terrorism in Afghanistan. In 2005 and 2006, the Government of Uzbekistan also ended some forms of bilateral cooperation, particularly in the area of encouraging civil society, by expelling international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who were U.S. Government implementing partners. Earlier, the government had registered two local human rights organizations, the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002 and Ezgulik in March 2003. Uzbek enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties is weak. The United States urges greater reform in Uzbekistan to promote long-term stability and prosperity. Registering independent political parties and additional human rights NGOs, allowing them and other NGOs to function, allowing greater freedom of the press, of assembly, and of religious freedom would be important steps.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.

Assistance. Once significant, the United States humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan has decreased markedly since 2004, both as a result of government actions against U.S. implementing partners and U.S. Government restrictions on aid. Since its independence, the U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistans efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment, education, and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassys Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government continues to support educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. The Departments of State and Defense provide technical assistance in the form of equipment and training to enhance Uzbekistans control over its borders and its capabilities to interdict the illicit movement of narcotics, people, and goods, including potential weapons of mass destruction-related items. In FY 2003, the United States provided roughly $87.4 million in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and microcredit support in Uzbekistan. U.S. assistance grew to approximately $101.8 million in FY 2004, but fell to $92.6 million in FY 2005. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society. Starting in 2004, the Secretary of State has been unable to certify that Uzbekistan has met its obligations under the bilateral 2002 Strategic Framework Agreement. As a result, more than $28 million in aid to the Uzbek central government has been withheld since FY 2004.

USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, a strengthened business enabling environment, expanded microfinance programs, enhanced competitiveness of the agribusiness sector, increased citizens participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. The USAID/Central Asian Republics Uzbekistan health program focuses on four chief needs: primary health care reform, infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and reproductive and maternal and child health. Programs are designed to develop local capacity to protect human rights, increase access to information, and promote mechanisms for citizens to engage with their local government. U.S. Government funds also support the work of non-governmental organizations to prevent trafficking in persons and care for victims.

Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. Peace Corps Volunteers were active in English teaching, small business development, public health, and womens issues. However, Uzbekistan failed to renew visas for Peace Corps volunteers in 2005, ending the Peace Corps presence in the country. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerces Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Proceeds from the U.S. Department of Agricultures Commodity Monetization Program are scheduled to finance more than 30 farmer assistance and rural development projects which were approved jointly by U.S. and Uzbek officials in 2005. Some of the selected projects are already underway.

[Fact sheet on FY 2006 U.S. Assistance to Uzbekistan.]

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Jon R. Purnell
Secretary--Penny OBrien
Deputy Chief of Mission--Brad Hanson
Political/Economic Chief--vacant
Public Affairs Officer--Deborah Jones
Management Officer--Doug Ellrich
Consul--John Ballard
Defense Attache--LTC Greg Wright
USAID--James Bonner

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is located at 3 Moyqorqon, 5th Block, Yunusobod District, Tashkent 700093; tel. [998] (71) 120-5450; fax: [998] (71) 120-6335; duty officer (cellular): [998] (71) 180-4060.


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