US defence official highlights growing ties with Kazakhstan



Multinational participants from eight countries stand in formation at the closing ceremony for Exercise Steppe Eagle 19 at Illisky Training Area near Almaty, Kazakhstan, June 27, 2019. [CENTCOM]

NUR-SULTAN -- The United States and Kazakhstan are working to expand co-operation in peacekeeping, the fight against terrorism, border security and regional security, a top US defence official said.

US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver visited Nur-Sultan to encourage bilateral co-operation, Kazinform reported Thursday (September 12).

Kazakh-US co-operation in the military and defence sector is of importance, Schriver told journalists at the US Embassy in Nur-Sultan.

"We are optimistic that we can do more together," said Schriver. "We have recently signed an agreement on exchange of information. We also discussed co-operation in the spheres which represent mutual benefit for our countries."

"We are proud of Kazakhstan’s achievements in training peacekeepers and deployment of its peacekeepers in Lebanon, which was also praised by the UN [United Nations]," he added.

"We have just completed a regular round of Steppe Eagle peacekeeping drills. The drills are an important component of military relations."

Growing co-operation

The latest Exercise Steppe Eagle took place at the Illisky Training Centre in Almaty Province June 17-28.

Steppe Eagle has taken place annually since 2003, and since 2012 as part of NATO's Partnership for Peace.

Military personnel from Great Britain, India, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and the United States took part in the joint training, the Kazakh Defence Ministry said in a statement at the time.

They completed tasks related to guarding checkpoints, escorting and convoying humanitarian supplies, negotiating with the local population, patrolling, clearing mined fields and roads, purifying and supplying water and providing medical aid.

The drills came as Kazakhstan expands its international peacekeeping presence.

Last October, Kazakhstan sent its paratroopers to Lebanon for the first time. They served for six months near the border with Israel as part of the UN Interim Force before returning in May.

Kazakh peacekeepers with the mission in late March received UN medals for their work "in the service of peace," Kazakhstan's Defence Ministry said in a statement on May 17.

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Kazakhstan will benefit from cooperation with the USA. Maybe Russia will also mend fences with America soon again.