Secretary of Defense Meets with Kazakhstan Minister of Defense
Secretary Cohen hosted Republic of Kazakhstan Minister of Defense Mukhtar Altynbayev, for his first counterpart visit to Washington, D.C., today. Both country officials noted with satisfaction the progressive and developing character of military cooperation between the two countries. They discussed a wide range of issues in the military sphere and agreed to develop further the ministry-to-ministry relationship and engage in cooperative defense initiatives. The United States and Kazakhstan have a common goal to promote and maintain peace and stability in the region.
Both sides agreed that Kazakhstan's defense reform initiatives are vital to building an effective military force that can support Kazakhstan's national defense and reinforce its sovereignty and integrity. Country officials from both sides also agreed that bilateral consultations between defense and military experts of Kazakhstan and the United States on the implementation of military reform in Kazakhstan would be important in strengthening Kazakhstan's national defense.
The sides agreed that regional security cooperation among Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, in the form of the Central Asian Peacekeeping Battalion (CENTRASBAT), is an exceptionally important effort. The U.S. side encourages PFP engagement through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and through U.S. military contacts, which promote further development of cooperative military relations with NATO and engender regional security and stability.
The U.S. side and the Kazakhstani side amended existing agreements in the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The CTR Program covers a number of projects such as dismantlement of silos and other facilities related to weapons of mass destruction, tunnel closures, defense conversion and government-to-government communications links. Officials from both sides noted with satisfaction the solid progress made in all these areas.
Both sides discussed counterproliferation concerns. Kazakhstan has a key role to play in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They agreed that U.S.-Kazakhstani cooperation is excellent in this area and should continue to expand.
The U.S. and Kazakhstan sides look forward to building a deeper, cooperative defense relationship which will continue to advance our common security interests.