NATO LEADER VISITS THE REGION.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 52

On the second and third leg of his tour of Central Asia, NATO secretary general Javier Solana conferred with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev, Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva, and military leaders discussed with Solana the participation of Kyrgyzstan in the joint CentrasBat and its planned exercises with U.S. troops in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. The sides envisaged a follow-up in Kyrgyzstan to the joint PfP exercise scheduled for this September in Kazakstan and Uzbekistan. Also on the agenda were a training program for Kyrgyz officers in NATO member countries, English-language instruction for Kyrgyz military, and civilian activities in the PfP framework. At the same time, Akaev urged gradualism in NATO’s enlargement and pleaded for due regard to "the interests of Kyrgyzstan’s strategic ally Russia," displaying greater caution than other Central Asian presidents on this point. He stressed that the presidents had not coordinated their positions on the matter and that he was speaking "solely on Kyrgyzstan’s behalf."

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