March 15, 2005
By Maj. Neal Edmonds
RICHMOND, VA -- Virginia’s State Partnership Program with the Republic of Tajikistan took a new and significant path on Mar. 3, 2005 with a meeting between Governor Mark Warner and Tajikistan’s Ambassador Khamrokhon Zaripov, arranged by Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. The meeting, conducted in the Governor’s offices at Virginia’s capitol in Richmond, was the first between Tajikistan and Virginia government officials. Also in attendance were Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall, his deputy Bob Crouch, and Matt Erskine, the Governor’s Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
Zaripov thanked Warner and Williams for the valuable work that the Virginia National Guard has done with their counterparts in the Tajik military during this first year of the State Partnership Program (SPP), and positively commented on how quickly the partnership has matured.
Of particular note to Zaripov were the issues of his country’s border security against terrorist groups as well as narcotics traffickers from Afghanistan.
The conversation quickly moved to the possibility of a new economic partnership between Virginia and Tajikistan with Warner pointing out that the Commonwealth of Virginia is ranked second among all of the states (behind only New Jersey) in exports to Tajikistan. Zaripov invited the Governor to send an economic delegation to Dushanbe this May to participate in an international economic forum with the goal of attracting foreign businesses and investors to the Central Asian republic.
The Ambassador also graciously invited Warner to visit Tajikistan stating that the Governor would have an audience with Tajikistan’s President Rakhmanov. The Governor will also be able to see first hand the results of our successful military partnership, and to investigate the economic possibilities in Tajikistan’s mining and hydroelectric industries.
The meeting then concluded with Warner presenting Zaripov a silver Jefferson Cup, and the Ambassador presenting the Governor with several gifts from Tajikistan.
Williams then escorted Ambassador Zaripov on a personal tour of the Capitol before the Ambassador’s trip back to Washington, D.C.