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Afghanistan On Agenda As Senior U.S. Diplomat Discusses Cooperation With Uzbek President In Tashkent

Uzbekistan. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (file photo)
Uzbekistan. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev (file photo)

TASHKENT -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has met with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev in Tashkent to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and the situation in Afghanistan.

During the October 4 meeting in the Uzbek capital, Sherman thanked Mirziyoev for his country's "close cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan," and "underscored the importance of the United States' strategic partnership with Uzbekistan," according to a statement from the State Department.

The U.S. official also called for "continued progress on economic, democratic, and human rights reforms" in Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek presidential press service said that the two sides "noted with satisfaction that in recent years the multifaceted cooperation between Uzbekistan and the United States has been developing rapidly."

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August has triggered alarm among Uzbekistan and other neighboring Central Asian states over possible security threats emanating from the war-torn country and the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to cross the border.

Mirziyoev has positioned himself as a reformer since taking office following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016, releasing political prisoners and opening his country to its neighbors and the outside world.

However, human rights groups say the reforms have not gone far enough.