An unexpectedly large and sudden dump of thousands of WikiLeaks documents alleged to be cables from world capitals contains at least 150 previously unpublished dispatches from US diplomats in Ashgabat.
The cables range from dates in 2006, during the era of past dictator Saparmurat Niyazov, and from 2007 through 2010, the period of the rule of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. The reports illustrate intense US interest in improving relations and trade with this secretive Central Asian nation, where no US ambassador was appointed for nearly five years. Strategically located next to Iran and Afghanistan, Turkmenistan has served for the US as both a listening post on to Iran, and a staging area to supply US troops in Afghanistan.
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Catherine A. Fitzpatrick compiles the Turkmenistan weekly roundup for EurasiaNet. She is also editor of EurasiaNet's Sifting the Karakum blog. To subscribe to the weekly email with a digest of international and regional press, write firstname.lastname@example.org