Kazakhstan will play “the most active role” in supporting reverse transit of the U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, according to President Nazarbayev’s advisor for political affairs, Ermukhamet Ertysbayev.
“Let’s take the U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is an incredibly complex task. And the southern routes, and I mean through Pakistan, are basically closed to the United States. So the route that’s open would be the northern route, which would go through Kazakhstan, and we would take the most active role in supporting the U.S. in this endeavor and we are the ally of the United States,” Ertysbayev told Silk Road Newsline in an interview in Washington June 2012, reported Silk Road Newsline.
“I would like to remind you that in September of 2002, so basically ten years ago, the United States and Kazakhstan signed a very important agreement on strategic partnership. Kazakhstan is the only country in the post-Soviet space that has such strategic cooperation agreement with the United States. And in these ten years, a lot has been accomplished under the framework of this agreement, including fight against terrorism, drugs, drug trafficking, political radicalism including religious radicalism, and Kazakhstan is very actively supporting the United States in their goals in Afghanistan,” Ertysbayev stressed.
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Earlier this month, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that NATO has struck deals with three Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, to remove equipment through their territories as it winds down the Afghan operation.
“We reached agreement on reverse transit from Afghanistan with three Central Asian partners: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan,” Rasmussen told a news conference in Brussels.
“These agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and flexible transport network we need. I thank all three partner countries for their support. And NATO will continue to actively engage with Afghanistan’s neighbors to build wider support for the country’s stability,” Rasmussen said, without offering detail on the accords.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan are the three countries through which NATO already operates its Northern Distribution Network for ferrying “non-lethal goods” and supplies into Afghanistan.
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