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NEWS

Daily Press Briefing by Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State

1 February 2012

http://www.state.gov of 2/1/2012 - [Excerpt on Uzbekistan.  Full text is here]     

"QUESTION: A question on Uzbekistan: Are you able to comment on reports of the - reports out there today that the Administration waived a ban on nonlethal military assistance to Uzbekistan on a temporary basis? Are you able to confirm that and offer any guidance?

MS. NULAND: I am. Under the Foreign Operations and Related Programs Act of 2012, the Secretary of State has the authority to waive certain restrictions on assistance to the Government of Uzbekistan if she certifies that it is in the national security interest of the United States to do so, and also that it's necessary to obtain access to and from Afghanistan for U.S. assistance to that country. The Secretary has issued such a waiver in this case. She made the determination on January 18th and we put it forward to the Hill a couple of days later. It is a six-month waiver. This is the first time we have done this one. She'll have to review again six months from now. And this is waiver authority that we have through 2013.

QUESTION: And there are some critics that will say that this sort of - this is giving the Uzbek Government a free pass on alleged abuses they committed. Is there any response to that sort of criticism for taking this action?

MS. NULAND: Well, we certainly reject the notion that anybody's being given a free pass on human rights. As you know, the Secretary was in Uzbekistan in October, had a chance to work on the full range of our bilateral and regional issues, but also spoke very frankly to President Karimov, to members of his government, about our ongoing interest in support for human rights, reforming the system, our concern about individual cases. So this is part and parcel of our diplomacy.

She also spoke out very clearly the day before in Tajikistan about our specific concerns about the rights of minorities, the rights of children, the rights of women, about the court system, all of these kinds of things. So nobody is shying away from having the tough conversation. That said, we also have other interests and things that we need to protect in our relationship with Uzbekistan.

QUESTION: So you seem to be saying that this equipment, or whatever it is, is going to be used for the Northern Distribution Network. Would that be --

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Examples of the kinds of things that this waiver was given for - this will enhance the Uzbeks' ability to counteract transnational terrorism and all - things like night vision goggles, personal protection equipment, global positioning systems. It's defensive in nature, and it's also supportive of their ability to secure the routes in and out of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I was under the impression it was weapons. This is all nonlethal stuff?

MS. NULAND: I don't have exactly - I don't - but beyond what I just gave you, examples of equipment - vision goggles, personal protection equipment - it's all defensive in nature. With regard to lethal/nonlethal, let me get that for you, Matt.

QUESTION: But wasn't the - I mean, there were restrictions in the law that --

MS. NULAND: On any.

QUESTION: Yeah, but they had already been - I guess I don't understand, because while we were there --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- this was a topic of discussion, and it was - maybe I was - a misimpression, but it was my impression that they were already getting nonlethal stuff.

MS. NULAND: I can't speak to what --

QUESTION: There had been a decision almost a year ago on --

MS. NULAND: I think that whatever we had on the books had expired and needed to be renewed, but we can get you a brief on the precise details, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Yeah, please, because it came up. It was a topic of - I remember it being a topic of conversation, at least on the plane.

MS. NULAND: Well, one of the topics of conversation was that the Uzbeks were asking for more than we were giving and were concerned about their ability to protect the routes and concerned about their ability to be effective counterterrorism partners.

Please."