Mr. Foreign Minister, I thank you very much for your very, very generous welcome, to all of your delegations and President Atambaev. And it’s a pleasure for me to be here, and I would say to the people of Kyrgyzstan that I wish I was able to stay longer. I know what a beautiful country this is. But this is whetting my appetite, and hopefully I can return before too long.
To begin, I want to congratulate President Atambaev and the people of the Kyrgyz Republic on holding successful parliamentary elections. The results are an important milestone in this nation’s journey toward a democracy that is inclusive and representative of all citizens. The President, the Central Election Commission, and civil society leaders all deserve credit for their commitment to a competitive and transparent electoral process.
Twenty-four years ago, the United States recognized the sovereignty of the Kyrgyz Republic, newly independent from the former Soviet Union. On December 25, 1991, President George H. W. Bush said simply: “This is a day of great hope for all Americans. Our enemies have become our partners, committed to building democratic and civil societies. They ask for our support, and we will give it to them.” For more than two decades, America has made good on that promise. And I look forward this afternoon to dedicating the new U.S. Embassy building, which reflects our enduring friendship with the Kyrgyz Republic and its people.
In our discussions today, the Foreign Minister and I agreed that our economic, political, and cultural partnerships are expanding in ways that benefit not only our countries but people throughout the region. We also reviewed regional security issues, including Afghanistan, and the necessity of working together to address climate change.
Later today, I will have the privilege of speaking at the American University of Central Asia, where I will emphasize America’s commitment to a relationship with this country and the region that is based on mutual interests and mutual respect. It’s a sign of that commitment that we are investing in vocational training for Afghan and Tajik students. And we also annually pay for five full scholarships for Tajik students to study here, so that they can return to Tajikistan armed with a higher education that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain. It’s why we’re organizing trade delegations in Central Asia, Islamabad, Kabul, and elsewhere to improve export opportunities and expand our business-to-business ties. And it’s why we’re helping women entrepreneurs through our Central Asia-Afghanistan Women’s Economic Symposium.
I was very grateful for the opportunity earlier today to meet with a number of women business owners and was extremely impressed by the progress and growth of their businesses, and their commitment to providing jobs for the people of the Kyrgyz Republic.
On trade and investment, our countries are working together on numerous regional initiatives, including the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line. I am pleased that Foreign Minister Abdyldaev will participate in our C5+1 forum in Samarkand tomorrow. And I hope that, at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad this December, we will consider further ways to make progress on a comprehensive regional economic agenda.
The Foreign Minister and I also discussed the situation in Afghanistan where the Kyrgyz Republic has long played a vital role, including by welcoming hundreds of young Afghans to study at AUCA.
On trade and investment, our countries are working together on numerous regional initiatives, including what is known as the CASA-1000 electricity transmission line. I’m very pleased that Foreign Minister Abdyldaev will participate in our C5+1 forum in Samarkand tomorrow. And I hope that the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad this December we will further consider ways in which we can make progress on a comprehensive regional economic agenda. The foreign minister and I also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, where the Kyrgyz Republic has long played a vital role, including by welcoming hundreds of young Afghans to study at AUCA.
We’re also working together, as I mentioned a moment ago, to tackle climate change. Climate change is a challenge for every nation in the world. And we will meet soon in Paris in order to try to achieve a global agreement. But we discussed the efforts today to address glacier melting, the thawing of our glaciers from the Tien Shan mountains. And we also agreed to coordinate closely as countries come together when we do meet in Paris in order to try to be successful in reaching an agreement.
In closing, I again want to thank our hosts for a very candid and productive exchange. President Obama and our entire administration are strongly committed to a U.S.-Kyrgyz relationship based on trust, equality, and mutual respect. Our talks today have given us a platform for further progress and for what I believe will be a very productive next few months and on into 2016. Thank you.