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U.S. Official To Urge Kazakhstan To Reopen Kyrgyz Border

Kazakh-Kyrgyz Border
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WATCH: The closed Kazakh-Kyrgyz border has disrupted travel and cargo shipments.

BISHKEK -- A senior foreign-policy adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama says he will urge Kazakh officials to reopen the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Michael McFaul, Obama's adviser on Russia and Eurasia, told RFE/RL in Bishkek today that he would bring up the border issue when he goes to Almaty later today for meetings with Kazakh officials on the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

McFaul arrived in Bishkek on May 4 and has held several meetings with members of Kyrgyzstan's interim government and representatives of nongovernmental organizations.

The Kazakh-Kyrgyz border has been closed by Kazakhstan since deadly clashes between antigovernment protesters and security forces in Bishkek on April 7 that ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who fled to Belarus.

The border closure has affected many businesses and led to problems at several major markets in Kyrgyzstan.

Interim government spokesman Edil Baisalov told RFE/RL on May 5 that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said the decision to close the border was based on reports that unknown numbers of weapons had been taken by protesters from Kyrgyz police during the clashes, which left more than 80 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

Baisalov said Nazarbaev pledged to reopen the border as of May 5, but it has remained closed.