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High-Ranking U.S. Official In Uzbekistan For Talks

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake (file photo)
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake has met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent.

Blake, who is the top-ranking U.S. official focusing on Central Asia, traveled to the Uzbek capital to "discuss the full range of bilateral issues, including regional stability and security, democracy and human rights, counternarcotics, education and cultural exchanges, and economic development and trade,” according to the U.S. State Department.

In particular, bilateral relations following the planned 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan was set to feature on the agenda.

Some Russian and Kazakh media have speculated that Blake is seeking permission for the U.S. military to have access to Uzbek military facilities.

Blake's stop in Tashkent follows a visit to Kazakhstan's commercial capital, Almaty, but not the capital city, Astana.

With reporting by KyrTAg and Liter