Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 97

General Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces Central Command, conferred with Uzbek Defense Minister Colonel-General Hikmatulla Tursunov in Tashkent on May 17-18. The two discussed plans to expand bilateral military cooperation and preparations for the forthcoming multilateral exercise in the CentrasBat series, an American initiative in which Uzbekistan is an active participant.

Also on May 17-18, the United States-Uzbekistan intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation conferred in Tashkent. The session focused on joint programs in defense industry conversion, power engineering, oil and gas development, and the promotion of trade and investment. Uzbek President Islam Karimov held talks separately with both American delegations.

The discussions highlighted a discrepancy between the development of U.S.-Uzbek political and military relations and a decline in economic relations. The bilateral trade turnover dropped by approximately 30 percent in 1998 compared to the preceding year. U.S. investment in Uzbekistan–some US$400 million as of 1998–is stagnant. Karimov admitted to the need for a “radical review” of Uzbekistan’s legislation and practices on foreign trade and investment.

U.S. economic delegation leader Ian Kalicki–special presidential representative for trade with the newly independent countries–suggested remedial measures. He urged Uzbekistan to introduce free convertibility of the national currency, accept the World Trade Organization’s admission requirements, accelerate privatization, create a legal framework attractive to foreign investment and reduce state interference with the market economy. Some of these recommendations are contained in a statement of the U.S.-Uzbek joint commission addressed to the Uzbek government and parliament (Radio Tashkent, May 17-18).

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