NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan and the United States have strengthened their bilateral cooperation on the 30 year anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence and relationship with the US at the annual meeting of the Kazakhstan-U.S. Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (ESPD) on Dec. 15 in Nur-Sultan led by Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Akan Rakhmetullin and U.S. Department of State Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Assistant Secretary Donald Lu, reports the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence on Dec. 25, 1991, During the meeting, both sides congratulated each other on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
The senior-level delegations discussed key bilateral and regional political, economic, and security issues.
While the US welcomed Kazakhstan’s political reforms initiated by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the two sides agreed to start practical preparations for the inaugural meeting of a High-Level Dialogue on Democratic Reforms in early 2022.
The US also thanked Kazakhstan for its strong partnership in addressing common challenges such as counterterrorism, border security, peacekeeping, non-proliferation, climate change, and regional security.
It also commended Kazakhstan’s efforts to repatriate foreign fighters and their families as part of the country’s Jusan operation that, in several stages, returned nearly 600 Kazakh citizens including 406 children to their country of origin.
Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhmetullin and Assistant Secretary Lu expressed their countries’ commitment to continue humanitarian support to the Afghan people. The US expressed appreciation for the temporary relocation of USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) personnel from Kabul to Almaty and noted Kazakhstan’s initiative to establish a regional humanitarian hub in Almaty. Both sides spoke in favor of further intensifying regional engagement through the C5+1 and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
The sides also agreed on the need to expand opportunities for U.S. companies in trade and investment in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the 81st largest trading partner of the US, with a total of $2 billion in bilateral trade in 2019. U.S. firms have invested tens of billions of dollars in Kazakhstan, concentrated in the oil and gas sector.
The two sides discussed the possibility of establishing “permanent normal trade relations” between Kazakhstan and the US. Vice Minister of Trade and Integration Kairat Torebayev and Senior Advisor for South and Central Asia Afreen Akhter also discussed science and technology cooperation, as well as English language and educational exchanges, women’s political, social, and economic empowerment programs, and joint initiatives to promote regional prosperity and connectivity.
The sides also stressed the importance of strengthening security cooperation by deepening ties between militaries, law enforcement agencies, and border and customs authorities within the framework of the Fourth Five-Year Plan for Military Cooperation between the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan and the United States Department of Defense.
As countries around the world are vying for energy-efficient and green technologies, Kazakhstan and the US agreed to forge cooperation in this area and stressed the importance of cooperation in climate adaptation, mitigation, and green economy development under the C5+1 framework after Kazakhstan pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and reach a 15 percent share of renewables by 2030, along with other Central Asian nations.
The delegations also affirmed their shared interest in strengthening people-to-people ties through academic and research exchanges. Both sides expressed their commitment to continue to support efforts to increase women’s representation in decision-making processes.
Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhmetullin and Assistant Secretary Lu affirmed their intention to hold the next meeting of the ESPD in 2022 in Washington, D.C. They also discussed a visit by Kazakhstan Deputy Prime Minister – Foreign Minister Tileuberdi to Washington in the first half of 2022.