US President Donald Trump on Tuesday met with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev where they discussed the situation in Afghanistan, the security in Central Asia and Kazakhstan's growth and development over the past 26 years, since gaining independence from the former Soviet Union.
Speaking at a joint press conference at the White House after their meeting, Trump thanked Nazarbayev for visiting the US and said he had “done a tremendous job in Kazakhstan.”
He stated that the US “has seen the strong, sovereign, and independent nation of Kazakhstan as a valued friend and a strategic partner in Central Asia. And we’re honored, and we are truly honored to be the first country to recognize Kazakhstani independence on Christmas Day 1991.”
He said that since that day the United States and Kazakhstan have worked together to advance peace and security in the region and far beyond the region.
“Together, we dismantled Kazakhstan’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and ensured a safer and healthier future for the children of Kazakhstan and for the world at large. We’ve pursued opportunities to increase investment in Kazakhstan and the energy sector in particular.
“And today, our strategic partnership with Kazakhstan has advanced my South Asia strategy, which is working, and working far more rapidly than anybody would understand, and providing crucial support for our forces in Afghanistan and denying safe haven for terrorists,” he said.
According to Trump the two leaders had a series of discussions on how their relationship can further the safety, prosperity, and wellbeing of their people.
He also stated that Kazakhstan is a valued partner in the US’s efforts to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
“Together, we are determined to prevent the North Korean regime from threatening the world with nuclear devastation,” Trump said.
He went on to thank Nazarbayev for his support for the US’s South Asia strategy, including their efforts in Afghanistan.
“I greatly appreciate the president’s personal assurances that Kazakhstan will continue to provide critical logistical support and access for our troops fighting ISIS (Daesh) and the Taliban, where we have made tremendous strides.”
He said the US also appreciated Kazakhstan’s work to train and educate Afghan civilian specialists, and that he was grateful for the Nazarbayev’s pledge of additional support to bolster Afghan security.
“The United States seeks partners who are strong, prosperous, respectful of their neighbors, and in control of their own destinies,” Trump stated.
Nazarbayev said in turn that he was confident that as a result of his visit, the relations between the two countries would be elevated to the level of the enlarged strategic partnership that would work to the benefit of both nations.
“And today, we will adopt a political statement that says about this new level of relations, and that would signal the new era of the relations between Kazakhstan and United States, between Astana and Washington,” he said.
He acknowledged that the US had been the first country to recognize their independence, “which helped build and strengthen our nation and make it what it is today, as a fair player of the international community.”
He said he was in the US to represent Kazakhstan adding he was “also here representing Central Asia, in the format of five Central Asian countries.”
“And recently, Central Asia became into the focus of big global players, because we are bordering Russia on one side; on the other side, we have China; to the south, we have an Islamic world. But we want also the United States to be present there in the format of Central Asia countries plus one — that’s means the United States. And we would appreciate this new format of collaboration,” he said.
He said that Kazakhstan has continued to support the US in the fight against terrorism and that it continues to “collaborate closely in Afghanistan with your country.”
Nazarbayev said: “As long as the American troops are in Afghanistan, I think it’s the mission of the whole world to make sure that Afghanistan is stabilized, and it’s also a mission for us, as a neighboring country of Afghanistan, to see that peace prevails in Afghanistan.”
He said his country has provided some humanitarian and technical support to Afghanistan worth $75 million USD. “But on top of that, Kazakhstan government spent 50 million USD training Afghans in Kazakhstan to some civilian professions that they cannot get trained in Afghanistan.”
According to him, the two leaders also discussed other international issues, including the North Korean issue. “You probably know that Kazakhstan was a country that possessed the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but then we voluntarily decided to give up nuclear weapons, and we also shut down the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, the largest nuclear test site in the world.
“And I think Kazakhstan has the moral right to talk to the nations that are seeking nuclear weapons. And this is the way we’re talking to Iran, and this is the way we will be talking to North Korea,” he said adding “I think the issue of North Korea can be solved by joining efforts of United States, China, and Russia.”
On the issue of economic relations he said: “I think economic relations play a key role. And in Kazakhstan, we have major American companies operating for many years. We have Chevron, ExxonMobil. We have General Electric, Halliburton. And all these companies invested about $50 billion USD into Kazakhstani economy so far. And also, that trade created an additional 5,000 jobs in United State.”