Terrorism, economic growth top agenda at the C5+1 meeting in Washington

04/08/2016 11:52
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, August 4, 2016, Asia-Plus – Radio Liberty reports U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for more cooperation in fighting terrorism and spurring economic growth as he met with foreign ministers from the five Central Asian states in Washington August 3.

In his opening remarks, Kerry reportedly said the talks would focus not only on violent extremism and economic growth, but also environmental degradation and climate change.

In a nod to the jitters felt over Russia's policies in Ukraine, Kerry said the United States supports “without hesitation, the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, and the independence of each Central Asian state.”

U.S. diplomats reportedly also made reference to longstanding human rights concerns that have troubled U.S. relations with most, if not, all the five countries.

Uzbekistan is notorious for using torture against inmates, and jailing rights activists on trumped up criminal charges.  Kyrgyzstan's jailing of an ethnic Uzbek rights activist and journalist prompted criticism from the U.S. State Department and soured ties between the two countries.  Tajikistan's leader has grown increasing autocratic, ordering people punished for wearing excessively long beards.  Turkmenistan is one of the most reclusive countries in the world.

Ahead of the summit, a U.S. State Department spokesman said media freedom in the region would also be on the agenda, warning that Russian news outlets should not dominate the media landscape in Central Asia.   

The U.S. Department of State notes that the U.S. Secretary of State and the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, following the second ministerial level meeting together issued the Second Joint Declaration of Partnership and Cooperation. They reconfirm their interest in further deepening cooperation through engagement in the C5+1 format and announce the launch of five joint projects, aimed at improving economic connectivity, adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change, and increasing dialogue regarding the common threat of terrorism, and commit to supporting the implementation of these projects.

The heads of foreign ministries of these six countries, in particular, declare the intention of their countries to protect human rights, develop democratic institutions and practices, and strengthen civil society through respect for recognized norms, and principles of international law, including the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on Principles of International Law, the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The first C5+1 meeting took place in Samarqand, Uzbekistan, on November 1, 2015.  The Samarqand meeting focused on regional cooperation, the fight against cross-border threats, and support for Afghanistan's peace and stability.  The Samarqand meeting ended with adoption of a joint declaration.

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