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Kazakhstan: Country Pledges More Antiterror Assistance

Almaty, 8 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Altynbek Sarsenbaev, the security adviser to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev, said today his country plans to step up its assistance to the United States-led campaign against terrorism. Sarsenbaev said there is a group of U.S. military experts in Kazakhstan currently, but he declined to comment further on their purpose there.

President Nazarbaev said during a meeting with the head of diplomatic missions in Almaty today that his country is prepared to help the campaign against terrorism with all means at its disposal.

Kazakhstan has offered the U.S. use of its airspace and bases. Defense Minister Sat Tokpakbaev, speaking in the Kazakh capital Astana today, said so far the U.S. military has not requested permission to use any bases or station troops in Kazakhstan, which at its southernmost point is still some 300 kilometers from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile in the capital Astana, Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry released a statement today denying allegations that appeared in Western and Russian media that President Nazarbaev accepted bribes from a South Korean businessman. The Foreign Ministry statement said news outlets that reported the story of Nazarbaev taking bribes from businessman Choi Soon-young were basing their stories on unreliable sources.

Choi, in jail since 1999 on fraud charges, testified before a Seoul appeals court on 26 October that he authorized a $10 million bribe to Nazarbaev. Choi said he did so to promote the business interests of the Shindongah trading subsidiary in Kazakhstan. Choi was the chairman of the Shindongah group.

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry said not only were the sources unreliable but the story is part of a campaign by unnamed political groups trying to blacken Kazakhstan's image in the international community.