The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years and were given an additional boost by the March meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC. High-level visits have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The U.S. believes that its own interests will best be served by the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues. This has been institutionalized through the establishment of the U.S.-Uzbekistan Joint Commission, which held its first meeting in February 1998.
The U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is an ardent supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and of the war against terror overall.
The United States, in turn, values Uzbekistan as a stable, moderate force in a turbulent region; a market for US exports; a producer of important resources--gold, uranium, natural gas; and a regional hub for pipelines, transportation, communications, and other infrastructure in which U.S. firms seek a leading role. The United States urges greater reform as necessary for long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights NGOs would be an important step. In an important first move, the government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties also is needed.
Uzbekistan was one of the first supporters of the US Global War on Terrorism, providing a base for US operations and supporting humanitarian relief operations into Afghanistan at the Friendship Bridge at Termez. German units supporting the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan established a northern base in Termez. Uzbekistan's President Karimov strongly advocated active US and Coalition involvement in Central Asia. Uzbekistan's own struggle against an indigenous terrorist group - the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) - contributed to a keen awareness of the threat facing the region and the world.