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London, January 28: Kazakhstan will play an active role in furthering OSCE initiatives to strengthen Afghanistan’s borders, develop cooperation and enhance law enforcement activities, said the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, at the international London Conference on Afghanistan today.

“OSCE engagement with Afghanistan is a priority of Kazakhstan’s 2010 Chairmanship. Afghanistan borders three OSCE participating States in Central Asia, and security in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to security in the region, and to security in the OSCE area as a whole,” he said, the OSCE press service reported on Wednesday.

Afghanistan is an OSCE Partner for Co-operation since 2003, and the Foreign Ministers of the 56 OSCE States agreed in 2007 to intensify OSCE engagement with the country.

The Organization has focused on enhancing the capacity of Afghanistan to manage its borders with its Central Asian neighbours and on supporting law enforcement capacities. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights also provided support for the Afghan presidential election in 2009, as well as for elections in 2004 and 2005. 

Saudabayev emphasized the need to join efforts and find common approaches to address the situation in Afghanistan. 

“Kazakhstan, in its role as OSCE Chair, will focus on promoting stability and security in Afghanistan through developing constructive political dialogue, stimulating trade and encouraging investment in the Afghan economy, supporting humanitarian co-operation and providing assistance in different spheres,” he said.

The OSCE Summit proposed by Kazakhstan for this year would also focus on Afghanistan, he added.

“An OSCE Summit with a particular focus on Afghanistan would be in the interests of all participating States of the OSCE, taking into account that 43 states out of 56 have been already practically involved in the processes related to rehabilitation of the country,” Saudabayev said.

In recent years, Astana has provided financial assistance to Afghanistan in the amount of US$ 2.4 million, used for reconstructing a road, building a new hospital and school. Two thousand tons of high-quality wheat flour from Kazakhstan were delivered as humanitarian aid. According to the decision from President Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has now allocated US$ 50 million toward educating 1,000 Afghans in Kazakh universities with a related agreement between the two governments signed last November, during Saudabayev’s visit to Kabul.

During the conference, Saudabayev met with foreign ministers from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Canada, Turkey, as well as Prince Aga Khan of the Aga Khan Foundation. Saudabayev also met Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for European relations at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chris Bryant.

Prior to the conference, on January 27 Saudabayev spoke at the Royal Institute for International Studies, better known as the Chatham House, where he familiarized the audience with priorities of the Kazakh chairmanship of the OSCE.

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