Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces expressed concern in December last year over what he said were U.S. plans to set up military bases in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.
Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, who met on Wednesday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana, denied any knowledge of these plans, but said the Pentagon is holding talks with Kazakhstan on transits of military goods through the country to Afghanistan.
Units from CENTCOM are deployed primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat roles and have bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, and Central Asia in support roles.
Despite its close military ties with Russia, Kazakhstan is striving to become the first country in Central Asia to achieve NATO-interoperability.
The ex-Soviet republic joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and agreed to the NATO's Individual Partnership Action Plan in January 2006.