(Note: Min. Nazarov's remarks are made through an interpreter.)
MIN. NAZAROV: (Off mike) -- meeting between the minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and the secretary of Defense of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld.
(Off mike) -- will be five years since the beginning of the -- (off mike) -- history of humankind -- (off mike) -- of the United States of America.
These barbarian -- (off mike) -- in human nature and has consolidated the world community in its fight against international terrorism, and to oppose it, an anti-terrorist coalition of the countries led by the United States of America has been formed.
Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, as the secretary of Defense of the United States of America, made a tremendous contribution in the course of neutralizing the actions of international terrorists and stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, and for this reason he frequently visits this country and the neighboring states.
I would like to remind that since the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, the current visit of Mr. Donald Rumsfeld to Tajikistan, it is the third. He first visited our country in November 2001; the second time he visited in July 2005; and this current visit is taking place on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan.
And during his previous visits of Mr. Rumsfeld to Tajikistan, his third visit, and his meeting with the president of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmonov, was of a constructive nature and was devoted to discussing the problems of establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan and also the issues connected with taking measures --countermeasures -- to contemporary challenges and threats as both in our neighboring country and in the Central and the Asian region in general.
The sides have noted with satisfaction that during the last year of anti-terrorist operation, the coalition, first of all, have neutralized the major forces of the Taliban group and their supporters; second, they have contributed to organizing and managing of the elections of the president of Afghanistan, the parliament of Afghanistan, and adopting the constitution of the country. All this serves as a basis for achieving the significant consolidation of the Afghan society.
It was recognized that the presence of the antiterrorist coalition in Afghanistan is in the significant way of guarantees of peace and security in this country. The Republic of Tajikistan has one more time confirmed its readiness to further continue its cooperation first with the United States of America and other countries of antiterrorist coalition, as well as a government of President Hamid Karzai, in the goals of achieving peace and security in Afghanistan.
At the same time, the president of Tajikistan and the secretary of Defense of the United States of America have emphasized that despite the -- (off mike) -- two of the destabilizing factors in Afghanistan are not being uprooted. In a number of provinces of of this country, the remnants of -- (off mike) -- of Taliban and al Qaeda still continue their actions. And they still continue their attacks on the antiterrorist coalition forces, and that -- (off mike) -- terrorism and murders of the representatives of Afghan authorities, and they are rudely violating the rights of citizens, particularly women.
The president of the Republic of Tajikistan has expressed his consideration and his worry because of the growth of the traffic of Afghan drugs across the border, as it was mentioned earlier; the estimation of the process of the destabilization of the situation in individual regions of Afghanistan, particularly in the southern provinces. In this -- (off mike) -- underlying -- (off mike) -- great importance of Afghanistan and the question of the rebirth of its economy, including, first of all, the cultivation of alternative agricultural products by the Afghan peasants.
We could observe that Tajikistan -- (off mike) -- great importance to the efforts taken by the United States of America and other countries of antiterrorist coalition on the formation of the Afghan national armed forces. And also, he expressed his wish and the wish of Tajikistan to help the Afghan government in creating the effective border service, which could provide effective measures of disrupting the distribution and circulation of drugs across the Afghan and Tajik border. The president of the Republic of Tajikistan also expressed his appreciation to the American side for its support and assistance in strengthening the (managerial ?) and -- (off mike) -- control equipment of Tajik borders border guards. That is a extreme condition of providing protection of the Tajik-Afghan border. The president has also expressed his appreciation to the American side for the construction of the bridge across Tajik-Afghan border.
In the course of exchange of opinions on the Iranian nuclear program, the president of the Republic of Tajikistan -- (off mike) -- the settlement of this issue. He sees the solution of this problem in the political and diplomatic dialogue.
Some other issues of bilateral cooperation have also been discussed during the meeting. Thank you for your attention.
Now I have the great pleasure to give the floor to the secretary of Defense of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thanks.
MIN. NAZAROV: You're welcome, Mr. Secretary.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good evening.
Thank you, Mr. Minister.
We have had good discussions with the president, the foreign minister and his national security team. As the minister has suggested, we covered a wide range of subjects. We see our relationship as multi-faceted. It's political, it's economic as well as from a security standpoint. As I think back to my first visit here in 2001, the development of the relationship between our two countries has been significant from a political, economic, as well as a security standpoint.
The minister mentioned that our work in counterterrorism, in counter narcotics and border security, as well as the Pyandzh bridge, which we believe will help improve the situation in both Tajikistan and Afghanistan. And we look forward to strengthening our relationship in the weeks and months and years ahead.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, and I guess we'll take a few questions.
INTERPRETER: The Russian Information Agency questioning.
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. Minister, with regard to the complicated situation in Afghanistan and the nuclear program of Iran, are the United States of America planning to increase their military presence in Central Asia?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No.
Q Minister Nazarov, in the context of the in Afghanistan, is your government interested in granting U.S. military expanded access to an air base, similar to the arrangement that the United States has with Kyrgyzstan?
Mr. Secretary, do you see the Russians as an obstacle to -- (off mike)?
MIN. NAZAROV: Well, first of all, I would like to say that Mr. Secretary has just answered this question. I would like only to add that for a number of years we have been successfully cooperating in providing -- cooperating in the field of halting drug trafficking and halting international terrorism, and in future plan to continue such fine, fruitful cooperation.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Bob, we're not, as you know, interested in establishing bases around the world. Indeed we have been reducing bases in the world. We do need the ability to support the activities that are taking place in Afghanistan. We believe that the stability in Afghanistan is important.
We provide a good deal of the logistics assistance and air refueling and other types of aid to the forces that are in Afghanistan from NATO as well as our own. And fortunately, we've been able to work out arrangements with a number of Central Asian countries as well as with Pakistan and nations to the south, which enable us to provide the assistance the Afghanistan needs during this period, and that requires things like over flight. It requires the ability to fuel in the air in some occasions, and we've benefited greatly from the cooperation we've had from Tajikistan.
And because the stability of Afghanistan is so important to this entire region, we feel that it's mutually beneficial, which is always the best way to have arrangements with other countries.
Q (Through interpreter.) Mr. Minister -- or Mr. Secretary -- excuse me -- will the United States have any plans of increasing their potential of assisting with hydropower projects?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We think that these are attractive from the standpoint of the region. The United States of America, unlike other countries -- a lot of countries in the world -- does not engage in projects of that type through the government. We do it through the private sector, and my understanding is that some private sector countries -- companies have, in fact, been discussing such things with Tajikistan.
Q For Foreign Minister Nazarov, please. You expressed concern over the destabilizing factors in Iraq (sic/Afghanistan); Taliban and al Qaeda have not yet been uprooted. Do you think the recent surge in attacks --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Iraq or Afghanistan?
Q Oh, I'm sorry, in Afghanistan. I'm sorry. Do you think that the recent upsurge in attacks and terrorism carried out by Taliban and al Qaeda threaten to reverse the progress made in Afghanistan?
And for you, Mr. Secretary, for several years now, efforts have been under way to stop the drug production in Afghanistan. What's gone wrong there, and what more needs to be done? Because this year it looks like they're going to have a bumper crop of poppy and, ultimately, heroin.
MIN. NAZAROV: Well, certainly the destructive forces in Afghanistan have the intention of reversing the course of events and to turn Afghanistan back to its past. Yet, the recent activities of these destructive forces in the south of Afghanistan and then in the capital of Afghanistan, in Kabul, are evidence of their efforts to destabilize the general situation in Afghanistan. Well, all their efforts have one aim: to turn the country and bring it back to its past. But I think their efforts are futile. The path cannot be turned. The country cannot return to its past.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The drug problem in the world is a serious one. What's happening is that in Afghanistan, there is a response to the enormous demand from Europe and Russia for drugs. The drugs from Afghanistan are going into Russia and Europe, and it's a danger to the people in Europe and Russia, and it's a danger to the people in Afghanistan.
The question was posed what went wrong. There's too many people demanding drugs and supplying large amounts of money to get them. That's what's going wrong, and it's going to take a comprehensive program by the Afghan government that includes crop substitution, subsidies, eradication, criminal punishment. And I would submit that while it's certainly in the interests of the Afghan government to work very hard on the problem, it's also in the interests of the people of Western Europe and Russia to recognize that it's partly their problem as well and to increase their efforts to help deal with it -- and I think that does it.
Q (Through interpreter.) With the permission of Mr. Secretary, I would like to bring as an example a number of (people ?) because Tajikistan is always blamed in the chain of the countries that are -- (off mike) -- drugs.
MIN. NAZAROV: Last year, the Tajik border enforcement forces and also the Tajik border guard have confiscated and seized 4,613 kilograms of drugs, of which 2,344 comprise heroin. In the first three months of the current year, the gross quantity of seized drugs have increased 27 percent; the heroin -- seizure heroin, of drugs.
And so, as you see, the situation with drug trafficking and the production of drugs remains very complicated, and it really needs the joint efforts of the parties and the government of the neighboring countries and the Western countries in order to stop this trafficking.
STAFF: (Through interpreter.) Ladies and gentlemen, the press conference is over. We express our appreciation to the foreign minister and the secretary for their statements.
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