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US: Uzbekistan Plays Critical Role in Afghanistan


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake speaks at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (FILE).

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake speaks at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (FILE).

The United States says Uzbekistan plays a critical role in supporting the international mission in Afghanistan.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake told a business forum in the Uzbek capital Tashkent that the Central Asian country plays a key role in efforts to confront violent extremists in Afghanistan.

Blake said Friday that Uzbekistan supplies much-needed electricity to the Afghan capital and supports infrastructure projects throughout the country, including the construction of a rail line in northern Afghanistan.

The assistant secretary of state also said Uzbekistan plays a critical role in the transport of non-lethal supplies into Afghanistan.

The U.S. diplomat said Friday that Uzbekistan could benefit from strengthened ties in the region. He cited how Pakistani ports could provide Uzbekistan's closer access to international shipping lanes for its exports.

Blake led a delegation of U.S. officials and business leaders during his visit, where he met with Uzbek officials, students and the media in Tashkent. The assistant secretary of state arrived in Uzbekistan Thursday after visiting neighboring Turkmenistan earlier in the week.

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