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Central Asia: Uk Policy

Volume 568: debated on Monday 29 January 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What were the results of the Foreign Secretary's recent journeys in Central Asia, and what is their policy towards this area.

My right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary's visit to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan underlined the UK's interest in strengthening bilateral relations with the newly independent states of the region, and our support for their continuing programme of political and economic reform. In Uzbekistan, the Foreign Secretary drew attention to the importance of co-operation in fields as far apart as the work of the BBC and the British Council, the fight against drugs, promotion of human rights and protection of the environment.The visit also provided a clear signal of support for British industry's growing involvement in trade and investment activities in the region. These countries provide important new markets for British companies, which, in turn, can make a valuable contribution to the region's economic development and prosperity. An Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was signed with the Republic of Azerbaijan.The Government's policy towards the newly independent states of the region is based on support for their sovereignty and independence. Since 1993 we have opened six new, small embassies in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus. They are there to promote British interests; helping British companies win new business and encouraging the development of stable, market-based democracies.