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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 580-99
December 20, 1999

U.S. AND KAZAKHSTAN SIGN "DEFENSE COOPERATION PLAN FOR 2000"

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Kazakhstan Minister of Defense Sat Tokpakbayev signed the "Defense Cooperation Plan for 2000" on Friday, Dec. 17, 1999, at a Pentagon ceremony. The plan highlights the broad policy level exchanges, visits, meetings, and cooperative military activities between ministries. By agreeing to intensify and broaden the ministry-to-ministry relationship in the defense and security sphere, both countries recognize the importance of the bilateral defense relationship and have a common goal to promote peace and stability in the region.

Both countries agreed to expand cooperation in the area of defense reform in order to strengthen the capacity of Kazakhstan's Ministry of Defense to develop a modern, effective military force, with a particular focus on resource management, logistics, and establishment of reserve components. Kazakhstan's continued participation in U.S. security assistance programs also promotes the growth and development of professional military officers and non-commissioned officers.

Both the Individual Military Education and Training Program and the NATO/Partnership for Peace (PfP) activities, such as those involving the Marshall Center, promote a more stable security environment by advancing the development of democratic defense institutions and relationships, promoting active, peaceful engagement and enhancing enduring partnerships among the nations of America, Europe, and Eurasia.

The United States continues to support Kazakhstan's development of its peacekeeping battalion, KAZBAT, in pursuit of its goal of unilateral and collective engagement with peacekeeping units in support of a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Both countries agree that this initiative, with a strong bilateral emphasis, can promote further development of cooperative military relations with NATO and engender regional security and stability.

The United States and Kazakhstan agreed to extend the existing Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Defense Conversion Agreement to continue economic adjustment activities in four sectors of Kazakhstan. Both sides also agreed to amend the CTR Weapons of Mass Destruction of Infrastructure Elimination Agreement to include expansion of biological weapons threat reduction activities in Kazakhstan.

Both sides discussed regional security concerns and the United States will consider proposals to enhance Kazakhstan's mobile reaction forces to address possible militant insurgents in order to build a deeper cooperative defense relationship to advance common security interests. The United States proposed broader cooperation involving border security initiatives.

This was the first visit to the United States for Tokpakbayev as the minister of defense.