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U.S., Kazakhstan Increase Military Ties

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 1997 – U.S. service members will help Kazakhstan's military in the year ahead to be all it can be.

U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Colonel-General Muhktar Altnybayev, defense minister of the former Soviet republic, signed a military contact plan in mid-November calling for more than 40 events and exchanges.

DoD's fiscal 1998 budget includes about $550,000 in international military education and training funds for training in Kazakhstan and for Kazakhstani officers to train in the United States, Pentagon officials said. About $1.5 million in foreign military financing is allocated to help Kazakhstan buy nonlethal equipment.

The increased military contact is part of a defense cooperation agreement signed Nov. 17 by U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

"The United States and Kazakhstan share a determination to work for peace and stability in Central Asia," Cohen said. "Our countries are successfully reducing the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, we have supported Kazakhstan's visionary decision to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and to become nuclear free."

The United States and Kazakhstan also work together through the Partnership for Peace program aimed at building new security structures for regional stability, Cohen said.

In September, about 1,400 troops from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, and the United States participated in CENTRAZBAT 97, the Central Asian peacekeeping battalion's first exercise.

Made up of troops from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the battalion formed in 1996 to create a regional security cooperation structure focused on peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.

At present, Kazakhstan has no border disputes, Nazarbayev said. Its goals in furthering defense cooperation with the United States are to preserve its territorial integrity and to help maintain regional stability, he said.

"Our country is a peaceful country. Nevertheless, our major goal, and it's a very important goal, is to have very educated, highly professional military forces," he said. "I think in this respect, we can take advantage of the great expertise of the United States of America."

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