Following is the text of a joint statement released at the conclusion of the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov, held in Astana, Kazakhstan on December 1, 2010.
Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Martynov today affirmed the commitment of the United States and Belarus to nuclear security and nonproliferation. The United States and Belarus share a vision for a world without nuclear weapons and pledged to work together to prevent nuclear proliferation. Secretary Clinton recognized the historic decision by Belarus to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994 as a significant contribution to nuclear disarmament and reconfirmed the security assurances recorded in the Budapest Memorandum with Belarus of December 5, 1994.
Foreign Minister Martynov announced that Belarus has decided to eliminate all of its stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and intends to do so by the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. The United States intends to provide technical and financial assistance to support the completion of this effort as expeditiously as possible.
Secretary Clinton commended this decision by Belarus as a sign of progress in efforts to advance nuclear security and nonproliferation and welcomed the Republic of Korea's intent to invite Belarus to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. With this decision, Belarus joins the United States in the international effort to convert nuclear facilities to operate with low-enriched uranium fuel, which is becoming the global standard in the 21st century. The two sides pledged to continue working together on nuclear security, including security upgrades at the Belarus Joint Institute for Power and Nuclear Research.
Foreign Minister Martynov and Secretary Clinton also pledged to strengthen global cooperation on peaceful uses of atomic energy, in accordance with international standards and other complementary bilateral arrangements as may be made by Belarus and the United States. Belarus announced its intent to diversify its energy supply through the construction of its first civilian nuclear power plant. The United States supports this effort, which includes a competitive process for the design and construction of a safe, secure plant operating under IAEA safeguards. The United States supports Belarus's efforts to complete this commercial project as expeditiously as possible.
Welcoming progress on these global security issues, the United States and Belarus acknowledged that enhanced respect for democracy and human rights in Belarus remains central to improving bilateral relations, and is essential to the progress of the country and its citizens. The United States hopes for substantial progress in these areas and that the December Presidential elections in Belarus meet international standards. In that regard, the decision by Belarus to invite a robust international monitoring presence to observe these elections is a welcome step.