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    DEFENSE SECRETARIES OF U.S., KAZAKHSTAN SET PRIORITIES FOR MILITARY COOPERATION

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    ASTANA, February 25, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Alisher Niyazov) - Military technological cooperation between Kazakhstan and the United States will be aimed primarily at combating drug trafficking and maintaining security of the Caspian area, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a press conference in the capital of Astana after talks with his Kazakh opposite number, Mukhtar Altynbayev.

    At their meeting Wednesday, the defense ministers examined ways of consolidating military ties between the two countries and discussed Kazakhstan's cooperation with NATO and the global community's war on terrorism.

    Rumsfeld praised Kazakhstan for its contribution to the international crackdown on drug trafficking in the region. The Coalition forces are, in the meantime, doing all they can to halt drug traffic from Afghanistan, he reported.

    Altynbayev pointed out, for his part, that military cooperation between his country and the United States was gaining momentum. In 2003, the defense departments of Kazakhstan and the US signed a five-year plan identifying specific areas of cooperation, he recalled. Under this plan, the sides will focus on fighting global terrorism, developing peacekeeping forces, enhancing the combat efficiency of the Kazakh Air Force, and consolidating the Caspian military infrastructure, including the Navy.

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