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Remarks by Secretary Mattis at an Enhanced Honor Cordon Welcoming President Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  Well, Mr. President, President Mirziyoyev, members of the delegation, welcome to the Pentagon, Mr. President, for your first visit.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the White House and that your meetings in Washington so far have been productive.

And springtime is usually the best season to visit Washington.  We have a little rain today, but I must note that our nations are also moving into a new, positive season in our strategic partnership.

Our five-year plan that was signed last summer supports our military-to-military cooperation.

And this is especially in defense institution-building, where, working alongside your armed forces academy instructors, we can exchange our best practices with each other.

And, as we say in America, this is a two-way street, and partners working together on shared interests always learn from each other.

And, Mr. President, I cannot welcome you here to the Pentagon without thanking you for your logistical support for the NATO campaign in Afghanistan.

And I especially appreciate your appointment of the special representative for Afghanistan, who I just met, and hosting President Ghani in Pakistan.

Uzbekistan taking an integrative approach to its central Asian neighbors, and especially Afghanistan, will unlock economic potential for your people and all the people in the region.

Uzbekistan and NATO share common interests in regional security, and we look forward to working more closely with Uzbekistan on counterterrorism and border security.

And, in your delegation, we welcome representatives of a culture established long before America was even born.

Bukhara, which houses the splendid Ismail Samanid mausoleum, and Samarkand, a storied city which houses the mausoleum of Tamerlane, stand as testaments to your rich history.

And, in such cities, humankind made significant strides in architecture, poetry, literature and science.  And, today, these places are beginning to prosper anew.

So, Mr. President, thank you again for visiting us here today.

PRESIDENT SHAVKAT MIRZIYOYEV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Dear Secretary Mattis, well, thank you very much indeed for a substantial welcome -- your welcoming, as well.

We have an historic past, detailed matters -- (inaudible) -- that have aspects of involvements of the bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and the U.S., at the same time, the history of the Republic of Uzbekistan -- the history that -- which we have had and the history that we will have.

We maintain our plan, personal as well as professional and a combat general, which is well aware of the current situation in our region. 

I would like to thank you very much indeed -- the Pentagon, the Ministry Secretary of Defense of the United States of America personally for a very productive, as well as a detailed cooperation from the Secretary. 

Why I am saying that -- because of the fact that we -- we are having the personal support of yours, as well as your ministry, and insurance of them bringing the peace, as well as the -- stabilizing the situation.

Yesterday, we have had a historical meeting with the president of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump.  During the many years along with the cooperation, we can have historic -- that it has been a very historical meeting, which we have had in a very open manner and a very trustworthy manner.  At the same time, we have discussed in detail and openly, as well as the -- concretely all issues in our bilateral agenda.

Yesterday, we have adopted the historical joint political statements between the leaders of the two countries, namely the United States of America and the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the beginning of the new -- new era of the strategic partnership.

The -- Secretary Mattis, the naming of itself -- of this political statement speaks for itself.  And you have rightly underscored the very fact that it is the best time to visit Washington, D.C., in the springtime, and, during these two -- couple of days, we have had a good rain here in the town.  (Laughter.)

And -- yesterday and today, and -- and these are very -- a reward.  This stands for good sign, according to our traditions -- the sign for blessing from above.


PRES. MIRZIYOYEV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Yesterday, with the president, Donald Trump, we have agreed on many issues of the bilateral agenda, including expanding the cooperation on the -- expanding the military cooperation in the area of ensuring the security, as well as the defense matter, while, at the same time, the procurement -- the cutting-edge U.S. technologies to Uzbekistan.

In Uzbekistan, for -- lately, we have adopted the strategy of action, and a lot of work has been accomplished in terms of the -- realizing and implementing the items of the provisions in a -- stipulated in the strategy of action in -- in this regard, including issues of raising the military capability and the defense capability of the Uzbekistan armed forces.

Besides, the -- Secretary Mattis, we in Uzbekistan -- we have adopted the new defense doctrine, which -- the defense doctrine is aiming for peacefulness and openness, as well as not interference into the internal affairs of other countries.

We have established in Uzbekistan the National Guard, as well as a -- the committee for defense protection.  At the same time, we have adopted a program for raising the defense capability of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 

At the same time, we have been reform -- reforming and beefing up the armed forces' educational facilities and the institutions in our country, including the facilities of the capabilities of the academy of the armed forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 

And it's very important, Secretary, that we need to take into that very quality of life -- the military cooperation, military technical cooperation between Uzbekistan and the -- and the U.S., as we have already underscored in our welcoming. 

For us, it's very important to take that up to new and higher level.  And, today, there is indeed -- there is something that we need to keep that in our agenda. 

And I believe it will be very pleasing to me to listen from the experienced military general as you, Secretary of Defense, the situation that is in, as well as around Afghanistan. 

Thank you, Secretary.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Again, it's -- this is an honor for you to visit -- take time to visit.  But it's also an area where we want to have practical progress that you highlighted.  And we're eager to work with you.

And, if the ladies and gentlemen of the press will excuse us, we'll get down to work.  Thank you very much for being here today.  Appreciate it.