Mississippi governor leads trade trip to Uzbekistan

FILE - This is a Jan. 30, 2019 file photograph of Gov. Phil Bryant, following a bill signing at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Bryant, who is on a trade mission to the central Asian country of Uzbekistan, is accompanied by a number of people from the private sector and state government including Mississippi National Guard Adjutant Gen. Durr Boyles. The Mississippi National Guard and the Uzbekistan military have been jointly training for six years in a state partnership program.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is in Uzbekistan this week to try to strengthen connections between the state and the country in central Asia.

Bryant spokesman Bobby Morgan told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Republican governor and others left Sunday and will return Saturday.

"This trade mission is no different than past trade missions he's gone on in past that have resulted in companies in those countries investing capital and bringing jobs to Mississippi," Morgan said.

The delegation includes Mississippi National Guard Adjutant Gen. Durr Boyles, Mississippi Development Authority director Glenn McCullough and others from state government and the private sector.

Morgan said the Mississippi National Guard and the Uzbekistan military have been jointly training for six years in a state partnership program.

Mississippi State University has had connections to Uzbekistan for about five years, university spokesman Sid Salter said Thursday. In February, the land-grant university established a collaboration agreement with Tashkent State Agrarian University in Uzbekistan, focusing on agriculture issues including irrigation and water management in horticulture. A delegation from Uzbekistan, including the country's minister of higher education, toured the campus in Starkville.

Mississippi State's primary interest in forming the international partnership is to improve global food security and alleviate hunger, Salter said.

Julie Jordan, Mississippi State University's vice president for international programs, is on the trip to Uzbekistan this week.

"She has some meetings on her own and will attend some joint meetings with Gov. Bryant," Salter said.

Mississippi Development Authority's international trade office director Rose Boxx and Asia trade manager Garic Barrosse are also on the trip to Uzbekistan, said agency spokeswoman Melissa Scallan.

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