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U.S.-British-Kazakh Military Exercises Begin In Kazakhstan

ALMATY -- The opening ceremonies for nearly two weeks of military exercises involving Kazakh, U.S., and British personnel have taken place in Kazakhstan's Ili region, near Almaty, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The maneuvers, called "Steppe Eagle 2009," are being held under the auspices of NATO.

Kazakh Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov took part in the opening ceremony along with British Ambassador Paul Barmmel and U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland. NATO representatives from Brussels also attended.

More than 1,300 troops and 100 military vehicles and airplanes are participating in the exercises, which are scheduled to last until September 26.

The main goal of the maneuvers is to train the military personnel in operating a peacekeeping mission in a conflict zone.

The first "Steppe Eagle" exercises were held in Kazakhstan in 2003. British forces joined the maneuvers the following year.