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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 23, 1998
                           JOINT STATEMENT 

During their April 23, 1998 meeting in Washington, Presidents Clinton and Niyazov agreed to expand cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Turkmenistan to promote its development as a market democracy. The United States strongly supports Turkmenistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and respects its neutrality. Through governmental and private sector partnerships, the United States and Turkmenistan aim to strengthen political, economic, security, commercial and agricultural ties for the benefit of both countries.

Presidents Clinton and Niyazov agreed on the importance of rapid development of Caspian energy resources and efficient export routes to world markets to promote regional development. U.S. companies are deeply engaged in these activities and this engagement is growing. The two Presidents focused particular attention on strengthening east-west routes in the Eurasian transport corridor. They expressed their support for practical steps to develop a trans-Caspian pipeline as part of a multiple pipeline network. President Niyazov welcomed the support of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to assess the feasibility of a trans-Caspian pipeline. In this context, the Presidents favor early resolution of the Caspian delimitation dispute. They welcomed the recent positive developments in the Afghanistan peace process, which could create new commercial opportunities and advance prospects for construction of a trans-Afghan pipeline.

The United States and Turkmenistan seek to expand economic and commercial relations, including greater trade and investment. The two nations will work toward completing a Bilateral Investment Treaty. Both Presidents welcomed the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between USAID and the Government of Turkmenistan on technical and professional assistance to the Turkmen energy sector, and of a Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. Export Import Bank and the Government of Turkmenistan. Extensive potential exists to deepen agricultural cooperation, building on the already active role of U.S. firms in Turkmenistan. The United States and Turkmenistan agreed to launch a bilateral dialogue on energy policy and commercial issues.

Turkmenistan has made significant progress toward economic stabilization. To sustain this progress, President Clinton encouraged deeper structural reforms, including privatization, in close cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Such steps will facilitate Turkmenistan's integration into the global economy. The United States supports Turkmenistan's accession to the World Trade Organization on commercial terms generally applied to newly acceding countries.

Democratization, economic reform and observance of human rights are essential to Turkmenistan's future. Rapid, concrete steps toward reform in these areas will demonstrate Turkmenistan's intent to abide by international norms that will advance the prosperity of the Turkmen people. Turkmenistan is committed to strengthening the rule of law and political pluralism, including free and fair elections for parliament and the presidency in accordance with international standards and the constitution of Turkmenistan, as planned for 1999 and 2002, respectively. Turkmenistan has invited the OSCE to open an office in Ashgabat, and the United States pledges its active support. President Clinton welcomed these steps to advance democracy and human rights.

The United States recognizes the challenges facing Turkmenistan in assuring its national security and respects its neutrality. The United States encourages Turkmenistan's further integration into emerging European security structures, including NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The Presidents support enhanced security cooperation, which will be explored in a bilateral security dialogue to be initiated this summer.

The two Presidents exchanged opinions on important international issues. They discussed the serious threats posed by international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, international crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They committed their governments to explore ways to expand cooperation in combating these threats to regional and global security.

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