Blinken expresses support for Kazakhstan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity

Astana, Feb 28 (EFE).- United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday expressed support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kazakhstan.

Blinken arrived in Kazakhstan earlier during the day on what is his first visit to the Central Asian country, aimed at boosting ties with this and four other former Soviet republics of Central Asia that are close allies of Russia.

“As you know well, the United States strongly supports Kazakhstan’s sovereignty, its independence, territorial integrity,” Blinken said during a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart, Mukhtar Tileuberdi, in Astana, according to a White House statement.

“Sometimes we just say those words, but they actually have no meaning, and of course, we know in this particular time they have even more resonance than usual,” said the US diplomatic head, while also expressing his desire for “stronger” ties with the Central Asian country.

Tleuberdi, on his part, expressed readiness “to work closely on vital issues of global agenda, including energy, security, and food crisis, climate change, and economic connectivity to further deepen our strategic partnership.”

Blinken then met with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who expressed “appreciation to the continuous and firm support of the United States for our independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.”

The US diplomatic head, in response, underlined the “remarkable work” done in strengthening bilateral ties over the last 30 years, and that their ties would “only get stronger.”

Blinken was also expected to meet with his counterparts from Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan before taking part in a ministerial meeting of the five Central Asian countries – to be joined by the Uzbek minister – in the C5+1 format.

At the multilateral meet, apart from expressing the US’ support for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries in the region, Blinken was also expected to discuss solutions for “global challenges,” in a veiled reference to the Ukraine war.

However, the five Central Asian countries abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution adopted last week urging Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and end the war.

Kazakhstan has spoken in favor of talks to end the Ukraine war and also advocated the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

In June last year, Tokayev told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a forum in Russia that his country would not recognize the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, illegally annexed by Moscow months later.

Nevertheless, Russia maintains its influence in the region, in the political, economical and militarily spheres with different regional alliances.

Russia has military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and sent troops to Kazakhstan in January 2022 as part of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) alliance to respond to violent protests that erupted there.

After Kazakhstan, Blinken will travel to Uzbekistan, again for the first time as secretary of state. EFE


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