Acting Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper hosted an enhanced honor cordon to welcome his counterpart from Uzbekistan for a meeting to discuss the military relationship between their countries.
Before today's meeting, Esper said it's a pleasure to host Defense Minister Bakhodir Kurbanov's first visit to the United States since taking office in February.
"Uzbekistan is a respected and valued partner, especially in support of military operations in Afghanistan," Esper told Kurbanov.
The United States and Uzbekistan work closely on issues such as counterterrorism, border security and building defense institutions, Esper said, noting that Uzbekistan is developing a curriculum for the Academy of the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan.
As part of that development, Esper said, he noted that Kurbanov toured several sites across the United States, related to that effort, including the Defense Language Institute at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, where three Uzbek military officers are learning English, and Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, where an Uzbek pilot will participate in the Aviation Leadership Program next year.
"We are looking for additional ways to grow our cooperation and will discuss this today," he added.
Esper mentioned that Uzbekistan already has a good military-to-military relationship with the U.S., not only in Afghanistan, but also in the State Partnership Program, in which Uzbekistan and the Mississippi National Guard are partners.
Kurbanov said it's a big honor to be in the United States on this official visit, and he expressed personal gratitude to Esper for making the visit possible.
Kurbanov added that today's visit is an extension of the May 2018 meeting between the U.S. and Uzbek presidents.