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Kyrgyz President Arrives In Neighboring Kazakhstan For Official Visit

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbai Jeenbekov (file photo)

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has begun an official visit in neighboring Kazakhstan at a time when relations between the neighboring Central Asian states have been under some strain.

Jeenbekov, who arrived in Astana on December 25, is expected to hold meetings with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintaev.

Relations between the two countries soured after Jeenbekov ‘s predecessor Almazbek Atambaev accused Kazakhstan of interfering in the campaign for Kyrgyzstan's October 15 presidential election and criticized Nazarbaev over his long rule.

On October 7, Atambaev accused Kazakh authorities of "meddling in Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs" and of openly supporting Omurbek Babanov, the chief election rival of Atambaev's favored successor Jeenbekov -- who ended up winning the election.

The accusations, which Kazakhstan denied, came after Nazarbaev met on September 19 with Babanov.

Kazakhstan subsequently stepped up checks at the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border on October 10, causing long lines and slowing the movements of travelers and vehicles.

Bishkek went on to cancel an agreement to receive a $100 million in aid from Astana.

Atambaev officially stepped down in early December, and there are some hopes that relations between Bishkek and Astana may improve.

In a meeting in Moscow on November 30, Jeenbekov and Nazarbaev agreed to work out a plan to resolve the two-months bottleneck at the shared border.

Starting December 4, all vehicles started passing the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border without any delays.