Secretary Rumsfeld in Astana: "We are partners in the global war on terrorism"
On April 28, 2002, President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev met visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in Astana for talks on strengthening the two nations' cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Following the meeting, which centered on the issues of security in the Caspian region and of Kazakhstan's practical support for the anti-terrorist operation, Kazakhstan, already providing overflight rights for combat aircraft, announced plans to offer an airport in the south of the country for emergency landing of coalition aircraft, possibly backed up by two additional airfields.
Kazakhstan also confirmed its readiness to provide various types of assistance with respect to transporting and providing humanitarian aid, and to allow the use of its airspace for the transport of humanitarian cargo. Kazakhstan's Minister of Defense Col. Gen. Mukhtar Altynbayev also announced plans to send a group of three high level liaison officers, including a general, to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., to participate in operational planning along with representatives of 30 other coalition nations.
"We had a very good and broad-ranging discussion on political, economic, and security issues," Secretary Rumsfeld said after his talks with President Nazarbayev. "Of course, we are partners in the global war on terrorism, and we discussed the situation in Afghanistan as well as our common interest in an independent, economically health, and secure Afghanistan."
"In that connection, we were very pleased that Kazakhstan is sending liaison officers to the Central Command and will be helping to coordinate the various types of assistance that your country has offered to Afghanistan," he added.
According to Gen. Altynbayev, during the meeting earlier in the day Secretary Rumsfeld said about 340 U.S. aircraft flew over Kazakhstan since the beginning of the operation in Afghanistan last October, while President Nazarbayev, reportedly referring to coalition forces, said the number was actually reaching 600.