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Kazakhstan: U.S. To Supply Arms, Military Training

Astana, 16 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Kazakh Defense Ministry says the United States has agreed to supply it with advanced weaponry to help consolidate its military's "material and technical basis." The Defense Ministry's press service said in the capital Astana today that the deal also includes a program to train Kazakh soldiers at elite U.S. military academies starting next year. It said the agreement was reached between Kazakh and U.S. officials in the U.S. last week, but gave no further details.

Meanwhile, a law containing stricter regulations on the registration of political parties came into effect in Kazakhstan today. President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed the measure into law yesterday.

The law requires that to register, a political party must have at least 50,000 official members. Previously, a party needed to have 3,000 members. Each party must also have at least 700 registered members in each of the country's 14 regions, and have a branch office in each region.

Kazakhstan currently has 19 political parties but only three -- all seen as pro-government -- are expected to be able to muster the required number of official members: the Otan Party, the Civil Party, and the Agrarian Party.

Parties are required to meet the new rules and be registered within eight months. The next elections in Kazakhstan are parliamentary elections set for 2004.