Daniel Rosenblum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asia talks to Navbahor Imamova, VOA Uzbekistan.
US is providing 308 MRAPs, and another 20 vehicles to support those MRAPs. They are sort of tow truck and repair vehicles for the ones that might break down. This is done under a program called Excess Defense Articles or EDA, which essentially provides US military material not needed by the US military. It is in excess of requirements and are provided for the countries that seek it but only after involved process of review to determine whether the need is there, whether the appropriate equipment exists. Also we look at the variety of things like regional balance, whether this will affect the regional balance in some way, before deciding to provide it, says Daniel Rosenblum. Our determination was that Uzbekistan required these vehicles and they made the case, of course, to support their efforts at counter terrorism and counter narcotics. They will all be provided to the Ministry of Defense and can only be used by the Ministry of Defense. These are definitely defensive vehicles. They are inherently defensive. Also, we consider them to be non-lethal. They are intended to protect personnel, crews and passengers in areas that there might be explosive devices, mines, so on. Under those circumstances and for the purposes of counter terrorism and counter narcotics, we thought that it was a legitimate request and decided to fulfill it. These MRAPs were at number of different locations. None were in Afghanistan by the way. They are coming from other places.
Navbahor Imamova, asked: We know that there is a new Central Asia strategy in place, can you briefly describe it?
DAS Daniel Rosenblum: Yeah, I guess I can give you… I mean to really describe it, it will require a longer period but I would say, it highlights, first of all, all the ongoing and sort of abiding US interests in Central Asia’s development that goes beyond. Even though our concerns about the stability in Afghanistan are still important, it goes beyond that. Whether it is stability in the region because of its location, important crossroads between Europe and Asia, whether it is about energy resources and economic growth we want to see in the region because it is a benefit to the world, frankly… So, the strategy first emphasizes that and talks about some of the challenges we face and what we are going to emphasize in our policy to meet those challenges. There are security challenges, obviously, that I talked about earlier, terrorist threats, narcotics trade, weapons of mass destruction, movement across borders that we want to see stop. There are economic challenges that need to have some better economic growth that create jobs for people, so that they are not dependent on migrant work in other countries and also for stability’s sake. And then there are internal reform challenges that have to be addressed, as I discussed earlier with Uzbekistan. The same is true elsewhere in the region. So, political reforms, respect for human rights… Those issues need to be addressed. So the strategy addresses all these elements and tries to give some ideas of how to engage on addressing them.