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Monday, February 19, 2018

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to Boost Bilateral Defense Cooperation

As Kazakhstan increases its domestic arms industry, the country is looking to play a bigger role in supporting neighboring Kyrgyzstan's defense requirements.

Recently, a delegation of Kazakhsta's Ministry of Defense and Aerospace Industry traveled to Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, for discussions on bilateral defense cooperation. The delegation was headed by Kazakhsta's Minister of Defense and Aerospace Industry, Beibut Atamkulov.

Trend News Agency reported, "The parties discussed the issues of interaction in the sphere of defense industry, activation of inter-factory cooperation and the outlooks of mutual supplies of military products.

"In particular, the Kazakhstani delegation offered cooperation in maintenance of aviation equipment and helicopters and offered the Kyrgyz side defense products and services manufactured by Kazakhstan's defense factories," the report added.

Both countries have significant amounts of Soviet- and Russian-origin systems in their force structures, especially in their respective Air Forces. Kazakhstan has partnered with Russia in recent years in order to improve its capacity to service these systems locally.

The effort is notable as it follows a diplomatic spat between the two countries, which occurred in 2017 around the time of Kyrgyzstan's presidential elections. In October, then-President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, accused Kazakhstan of meddling in Kyrgyz affairs, after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Kyrgyz presidential candidate Omurbek Babanov, who later lost in the election to Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Amid the dispute, Kyrgyzstan canceled an aid agreement provided by Kazakhstan, while the latter tightened its control of their shared border.

In December, the press office of President Jeenbekov stated alongside the president's visit to the Kazakh capital Astana that the two countries would resolve the matter through the Eurasian Economic Union, a trade bloc that both are part of.

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