Kazakhstan Offers More Support for War on Terror
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
ASTANA, Kazakhstan, April 28, 2002 - Kazakhstan is ready to do more in the global war against, April 28, 2002 terrorism, top government officials here told Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today.
Rumsfeld arrived in the Kazakhstan capital this afternoon, and his Kazakh counterpart welcomed him. The visit was the fourth leg of a five-day swing through Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asian nations. After a final stop in Moscow, the secretary is slated to return to Washington April 29.
The secretary and members of his delegation met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Defense Minister Mukhatar Altynbayev and other government officials for more than an hour. At a press conference following the session, Altynbayev said his nation declared its support for the struggle against terrorism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States. "Everyone knows you can't stand alone in that struggle," he said through an interpreter. "You must fight jointly."
The defense minister then announced several steps Kazakhstan is taking to increase its participation in the anti-terror effort. He said his country would send three military officers to Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., to serve as liaisons for planning and coordinating support. Kazakhstan also would provide wheat, foodstuffs, oil products and other humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan.
Altynbayev said Kazakhstan would now allow U.S. and coalition aircraft to use Kazakhi air space and railways to transport humanitarian cargo. U.S. and Kazakh officials are now working on a memorandum that would allow U.S. and coalition aircraft to use three Kazakhstan airports in bad weather and during emergencies.
His nation has already granted overflight rights for aircraft participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, Altynbayev noted, and more than 600 aircraft have flown over Kazakhstan since the U.S.-led coalition began operations in October.
The defense minister said there was no discussion of basing U.S. or other coalition forces in Kazakhstan.
Rumsfeld said this was his first-ever meeting with Kazakhstan's president and that it covered "a good, broad-ranging discussion of political, economic and security issues." Kazakhstan is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace, he noted. "We discussed improving and strengthening our military-to-military relationship."
The United States and Kazakhstan are already partners in the war on terror, the secretary said. The two delegations discussed the situation in Afghanistan and their common interest in seeing an independent, economically healthy and secure Afghanistan.
"President Bush has said we are to do everything we possibly can to ensure Afghanistan does not go back to becoming haven for terrorists or sanctuary for terrorists, where they send terrorists out across the globe to kill innocent people," Rumsfeld concluded.