Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leading a delegation of United States Senators on a multinational trip focused on progress on terrorism, global climate change, development and democracy. Other senators joining Reid include Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Scheduled stops on the weeklong trip include Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Germany.
During the first stop in Kyrgyzstan, Reid and the delegation met with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. At the meeting Reid stressed the need for Bakiyev to do more to help the nation build on recent political progress so that it can become a full and free democracy. He also thanked the president for Kyrgyzstan’s role supporting coalition forces in Afghanistan.
“Kyrgyzstan has made tremendous progress as a developing democracy,” said Reid. “What we have seen here has been very impressive, but there is more to do to strengthen this democracy and ensure that it is long-lasting. President Bakiyev has a key role to play in that.”
The delegation also met with opposition leaders and discussed concerns over corruption and opening the political system.
Prior to meeting with President Bakiyev, Reid toured the Manas Coalition Air Base located just outside the capital city of Bishkek. The base serves as a transitioning facility for troops preparing to serve in Afghanistan and supports logistics in Afghanistan. During his visit Reid had lunch with the five Nevada troops currently stationed at the base.
“I am very proud of all of our men and women who serve in the Armed Forces, but it is always such a privilege to spend time with troops serving from Nevada,” said Reid. “I am grateful that they took some time out of their day to spend with me and I thank them for their service to our country.”
Reid and the delegation also received an update on development work taking place in Kyrgyzstan. These efforts, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), focuses on improving the nation’s economy by building and strengthening small businesses through loans and grants.
“While many Americans may have never heard of Kyrgyzstan, as an important developing democracy in Central Asia, ensuring its success is vital, especially given its proximity to Afghanistan and the role this country plays in our fight against terror,” Reid said.