Kyrgyzstan - Foreign policy

Kyrgyzstan endeavors to establish broad-ranging ties with all nations of the world, particularly border states. Akayev has stressed close relations with Russia. Reasons include hopedfor economic and trade benefits and security ties to alleviate residual concerns about Chinese and Uzbek intentions. Akayev and Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a Friendship and Cooperation Treaty in 1992, and Akayev gave early support to the 1992 CIS Collective Security Treaty, which called for mutual military assistance in case one of the signatories is attacked. Akayev has urged that the CIS cooperate on economic and security matters.

Kyrgyzstan has signed a customs union agreement with Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan (Tajikistan joined in 1998), but the union remains moribund. In 1994, Kyrgyzstan joined Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in a "Central Asian Economic Community" that included a bank, a peacekeeping battalion, and mutual defense assurances, but it has been buffeted by regional economic problems. In December 2001, the Central-Asian Economic Community was transformed into the Central-Asian Cooperation Organisation. In October 2002, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan met to discuss problems relating to economic integration and regional security, in addition to drug trafficking and terrorism.

Kyrgyzstan's relations with Uzbekistan are mercurial. The two have trade disputes, and Uzbekistan has criticized Kyrgyzstan for providing refuge to some Uzbek dissidents and for purportedly permitting terrorist groups to "escape" Kyrgyzstan in October 1999. Akayev's March 1999 foreign policy concept called for close relations with ancient "silk road" route countries, including China, former Soviet republics, and Turkey, Iran, India, and Pakistan. Kyrgyzstan has also pursued good relations with Western states in its search for aid.

Akayev has stressed that landlocked Kyrgyzstan must rely on its neighbors for access to world markets. Cultivating good ties with China, Akayev joined leaders from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan in 1996 and 1997 in signing agreements with China on demarcating and demilitarizing the former Soviet-Chinese border. Kyrgyzstan hosted a meeting of this "Shanghai Five" in August 1999. Kyrgyzstan and China have essentially completed border demarcation.

In 2002, Akayev met in Almaty, Kazakhstan with the vice president of Iran, signaling his interest in strengthening the cooperation between the two countries.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.S. rallied governments in Central Asia to commit themselves to combating terrorism. The United States established a major airbase near Bishkek in December to aid its campaign in ousting the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. As a demonstration of closer ties between the United States and Kyrgyzstan, the United States prompted the IMF to reach an agreement on a $93 million loan to Kyrgyzstan in 2001. Two radical Islamic organizations seeking to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia— Hizb-ut-Tahrir ("Freedom Party") and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)—have a strong following in Kyrgyzstan. The IMU collaborated with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. However, it is believed that all major units of the IMU have been eliminated in the aftermath of the anti-terrorist operations led by the United States.

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