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In Moscow, New Kyrgyz President Vows To 'Strengthen Strategic Partnership' With Russia


Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov

MOSCOW -- During his first trip abroad since his inauguration earlier this month, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has pledged to make "every effort" to strengthen partnership between Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

"It is very symbolic for me to pay my first visit as Kyrgyz president to Russia. That is the way it should be," Jeenbekov said on November 29 as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Jeenbekov said the visit "means that we are firmly committed to strengthening our relations, our alliance, our strategic partnership. For my part, I will make every effort for our partnership to develop and strengthen."

Putin expressed confidence that bilateral ties in the economic sphere "will continue developing, just as in in the sphere of security."

Jeenbekov also met in the Russian capital with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who voiced hope that Moscow and Bishkek will "maintain current contacts."

The Kyrgyz president’s administration has said he would discuss bilateral ties and "Eurasian integration" with the Russian leadership.

Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, a trade grouping that links five former Soviet republics and is dominated by Russia and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan's large northern neighbor.

In his inaugural address on November 24, Jeenbekov said that "Kyrgyzstan will continue to promote its strategic partnership with Russia and will bolster its strategic partnership with China."

In an interview with Russian state news agency TASS before the visit, he called Russia "our main strategic partner" and also spoke of cultivating ties with China and Europe, but made no mention of the United States.

Jeenbekov is expected to travel to Minsk on November 30 for a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in Minsk on November 29 for a two-day visit that is to include the summit and a separate meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are at odds over border-control issues and remarks by Jeenbekov’s predecessor, Almazbek Atambaev, in which he criticized Nazarbaev and accused Kazakhstan of backing Jeenbekov's main rival in the October 15 presidential vote.

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