Senior U.S. Official To Visit Tajikistan

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A senior U.S. official is scheduled to visit Tajikistan next week in a bid to bolster bilateral ties between the United States and the Central Asian nation.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells will travel to Dushanbe from January 6-7, according to the U.S. State Department.

Her talks with Tajik officials are expected to focus on "deepening regional security cooperation, expanding economic and energy connectivity, and growing people-to-people ties," according to a State Department statement.

The planned visit comes more than a month after a State Department official said the United States had "intensified" its bilateral diplomatic engagements with the five Central Asian nations in 2019.

The increase in U.S. diplomatic contacts comes as China's economic and political influence in Central Asia grows and it seeks to strong-arm those nations to return asylum seekers from Xinjiang, a major concern for the administration of President Donald Trump.

The greater interest in the region also comes as the United States seeks to exit its 18-year war in Afghanistan, which borders several Central Asian countries.

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