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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
April 17, 2000

Joint Statement of the Government of the United of America
And the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic Concerning the Visit of
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
April 16, 2000

On April 16, 2000, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paid an official visit to Bishkek. She was received by Askar Akayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, visited the American University in Kyrgyzstan, and met with representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations.

Within the framework of these meetings, Secretary Albright discussed a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including the importance of building strong democratic and market-oriented institutions in Kyrgyzstan and enhancing regional security in Central Asia.

President Akayev and Secretary Albright reviewed the threats posed to Central Asia's stability by terrorism and illicit trafficking in all kinds of arms and narcotics. Secretary Albright reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Kyrgyzstan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Secretary informed the President that, in order to combat regional threats, the United States is prepared to make available an estimated three million dollars in assistance to enhance Kyrgyzstan's capabilities in the areas of border security, customs, law enforcement, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism.

President Akayev welcomed the Secretary's invitation to a counter-terrorism conference for the states of Central Asia that the Department of State is planning to hold in June in Washington. The two sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the Defense Bilateral Working Group in May in Bishkek.

President Akayev and Secretary Albright exchanged views on the recent parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan. They agreed that a strong bilateral relationship must be based on a demonstrated commitment to democratization, human rights and market reform. Secretary Albright agreed with the assessment of the OSCE that these elections did not fully meet OSCE and international standards. The Secretary noted the need to further strengthen the democratic process in Kyrgyzstan and correct the electoral irregularities detailed in the OSCE final report. President Akayev agreed to follow the OSCE final report recommendations on the elections to provide a basis for a free, fair and transparent presidential contest at the end of 2000. The Kyrgyz side informed Secretary Albright about measures taken by the government to eliminate election shortcomings.

Secretary Albright praised the role of NGOs and civic groups in preparing for and monitoring the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections. She stated that the United States will continue to provide support for grassroots organizations in their efforts to develop a robust civil society in Kyrgyzstan.

President Akayev and Secretary Albright underscored the importance of a free, independent and unhindered media as a cornerstone of democracy.

Secretary Albright expressed concern over the detention of prominent Kyrgyz political figures. President Akayev provided information on the cases involved. The two affirmed that an independent, fair and impartial judicial process in accordance with national legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic and international standards is essential in these cases as a critical component of democracy and the conduct of free and fair elections.

President Akayev acknowledged the value of the free flow of information in a democratic society and accepted with pleasure the Secretary's announcement that the U.S. government intends to open two new public access Internet sites in Kyrgyzstan. The President and the Secretary recognized the role of exchange programs in increasing mutual understanding and noted that over 1,600 Kyrgyz citizens have traveled to the United States on U.S. Government funded exchanges. Over 200 will travel this year.

Secretary Albright congratulated President Akayev on his country's first full year as a member of the World Trade Organization. The two agreed that Kyrgyzstan's economic future depends upon its integration into the world economy, and its success in fighting corruption and establishing the rule of law.

President Akayev reaffirmed his nation's determination to complete the transition to a market system open to international trade and investment.

[end of document]

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