US, Kazakhstan sign air transit agreement for Afghanistan

The agreement is expected to reduce dependency on Pakistan.

Washington: The US and Kazakhstan have signed an agreement for air transportation of goods for troops in Afghanistan, which is expected to reduce dependency on Pakistan.

The agreement was signed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J Shapiro and Kazakhstan`s Ambassador to the US Erlan Idrissov on Friday.

This agreement will enable the US to transport by air its personnel and equipment across Kazakhstan`s airspace to support American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The signing of this text brings to fruition the commitment made by the US President Barack Obama and his Kazakh counterpart Nazarbayev when they met in Washington on April 11 and furthers both countries` endeavours towards regional security in accordance with the spirit of their
strategic partnership, the State Department said in a statement.

"The agreement enhances a United States-Kazakhstan arrangement, under which the US began transit flights to Afghanistan across Kazakhstan`s airspace in 2001," the statement said.

It will enable the US and International Security Assistance Force partners to further enhance crucial transportation routes and decrease the amount of time needed to move personnel and equipment, and needed supplies in support of Coalition forces and the Government and people of Afghanistan, it said.

The State Department said that by providing access to new transit routes Kazakhstan is providing valuable support to the international effort to defeat the violent extremism in Afghanistan and to ensure Afghanistan`s and the region`s security.

"Conflict and instability in Afghanistan are threats to the region and the world. Bilateral cooperation, as exemplified concretely by this Air Transit Agreement, helps to counter these negative trends by enabling progress on our common efforts regarding the security, stabilisation, and reconstruction of Afghanistan," the statement added.