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Kazakhstan's Diplomatic Chief Warns Foreign Meddlers

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (right) rubbing elbows at the June SCO summit (epa) July 7, 2006 -- Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev, during an official visit to Washington on June 6, rejected any attempts by outsiders to impose systems of governance on his country.

Tokaev noted that noninterference is a key tenet of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a six-country alliance that includes China, Russia, and four of Central Asia's five post-Soviet states (Turkmenistan is not an SCO member).

Observers suggested that Tokaev's remarks appeared to be directed at the United States, which pursued closer ties in Central Asia after the September 2001 terror attacks but has more recently seen those relations cool.

A recent SCO summit reaffirmed the noninterference aspect of member-states' relations, and also fed concerns outside the region of growing influence for Moscow and Beijing in Central Asia. At the same summit, the six SCO leaders suggested flatly that countries should not seek to export models of social development.

While the security-minded SCO has repeatedly asserted that it is not a military bloc, it is frequently viewed as a growing counterweight to U.S. and Western influence in the region.

The Bush administration and European countries have criticized Kazakhstan's presidential election in December, saying they the voting fell short of international standards. Official figures showed that long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbaev won with 91 percent of the vote.

(AP with RFE/RL reports)