DUSHANBE, October 23, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- Russia’s military presence in Tajikistan will not affect relations between Dushanbe and Washington, Mrs. Susan M. Elliott, U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan, noted at her first press conference in Dushanbe on October 23.

“The Russian military base has been deployed in Tajikistan since Soviet times and I think this will not put obstacle in the way of expanding military cooperation between Tajikistan and the United States,” U.S. diplomat stressed.

Ambassador Elliott noted that the United States did not intend to open transit center in Tajikistan or any other Central Asian country after 2014.  According to her, the United States has signed an agreement with Kyrgyzstan on the use of the Manas Transit Center until 2014.  “We are currently conducting negotiations with the Kyrgyz authorities on prolongation of the contract,” Ambassador Elliott said.

She added that there were transit points for carrying non-military cargo through Tajik territory to neighboring Afghanistan.  “Commander of U.S. Transport Command (USTRANSCOM) was in Tajikistan yesterday and this issue, including creation of necessary infrastructure for transit traffic, was among major topics of discussions,” U.S. ambassador noted.

Ambassador Elliott also noted that she would take efforts to promote further expansion of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Tajikistan.  First of all, it is necessary to expand cooperation in the fields of security and observance of human rights, she noted, adding that the other important directions of cooperation are economy and education.

Ambassador Susan M. Elliott is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. During her twenty two year career as a Foreign Service Officer she has received several individual superior and meritorious honor awards.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service she received a doctoral degree from Indiana University and served on the faculties of Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana) and the University of Virginia.