Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 54

On the final leg of his Central Asian tour, NATO secretary general Javier Solana conferred with Turkmen president Saparmurad Niazov, Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov, and military leaders in Ashgabat. Clearly distancing itself from Moscow, the Turkmen side announced that it has no objection to NATO’s eastward enlargement and that it appreciates NATO’s peacekeeping potential "in the West and the East." The Turkmen leaders also discussed an officer training program with Solana’s delegation. At the same time, they reaffirmed their known position that the country’s neutrality precludes its participation in joint military exercises planned to be held by NATO countries and Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan in the region this year. (Interfax, March 14; RIA, March 16)

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