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U.S. General Holds Talks With Kazakh Defense Minister


http://gdb.rferl.org/956140F3-A068-482E-935A-8D142C1B1C34_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/956140F3-A068-482E-935A-8D142C1B1C34_mw800_mh600.jpg General Abizaid (L) with Kyrgyz President Bakiev on 1 November (RFE/RL) 3 November 2005 -- The top U.S. military commander in the Persian Gulf region visited Astana today for talks with Kazakh Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev.


After the meeting, General John Abizaid praised Kazakhstan's efforts to reform its military.


"With the briefings that I received here today in the Ministry of Defense, it was very clear that the progress of
reforms continue, militarily, in a most impressive fashion," Abizaid said.


Abizaid reiterated that Washington has no intention of establishing a military base in Kazakhstan unless a tense situation emerges in Central Asia and the Kazakh government requests the U.S. military to do so.


Abizaid is on a tour of the region.


He met with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev on 1 November to discuss bilateral military cooperation.


The U.S. military has been using the Ganci air base at Manas airport near Bishkek since the end of 2001 for conducting security and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.


Kyrgyzstan wants the United States to pay more for the use of the base.


(Interfax)

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