Political Cooperation

On September 26-29, 2006, during the visit of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Washington the he and then President George W. Bush adopted a Joint Statement, which defined further prospects for the Kazakhstan-American relations, including strengthening of the strategic partnership through the intensification of strategic dialogues on energy, military cooperation, trade, investment and democratization. The document declares the US support for Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO and excluding Kazakhstan from the Jackson–Vanik amendment.

On November 14, 2008, just after the election of President Barack Obama made introductory calls to the leaders of key allies, including the President Nazarbayev. During the phone conversation the heads of both states discussed the current bilateral strategic partnership and the prospects for future areas of expanded cooperation. Among other things, President Obama expressed interest in visiting Kazakhstan in the near future.

On April 11-14, 2010, the President of Kazakhstan made an official visit to the United States as to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit. While in Washington, President Nazarbayev held meetings with President Obama, Secretary of Energy Chu, the heads of Jewish organizations and major American corporations.

During the meeting between the two leaders, agreement was reached on the further strengthening of the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States, discussed issues of global security, including nuclear non-proliferation and stabilization in Afghanistan, the promotion of democracy, trade and economic cooperation and Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship of the OSCE.

As a result of the visit to the United States, the two sides adopted a Joint Statement, signed the Agreement for Scientific and Technical Cooperation as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between Kazakhstan’s Temir Zholy and General Electric regarding switches for CIS countries.

On November 30 – December 2, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Astana as the Head of the American delegation to the OSCE Summit. It was her second visit to Kazakhstan; her first was in 1997 as First Lady. As part of her visit, the American diplomat held meetings with President Nazarbayev and OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Saudabayev. Secretary Clinton thanked the Government of Kazakhstan and the people of the country for the extended warm welcome and hospitality.

Prior to the OSCE Summit, Secretary Clinton spoke in public at the Gumilyov Eurasian National University and met with the civil society representatives of Kazakhstan, including female NGOs, as well as the students and graduates of the Bolashak scholarship program. During her visit there, Clinton noted that “the people of Kazakhstan should appreciate and be proud of what the country has achieved in such a short period of its independence.”

On September 22, 2011, in a visit to New-York for the UN General Assembly, President Nazarbayev met again with President Obama. The two leaders discussed issues of the bilateral relations, nuclear security, fight against terrorism, etc. In addition, within the framework of the UN Session, the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Germany and Afghanistan held a briefing entitled “The New Silk Road,” – a U.S. initiative to create a regional economic and transport network connecting South and Central Asia with Afghanistan. Kazakhstan expressed support for the plan and will be a central player in its implementation.

On October 12-13, 2011, the Kazakh cities of Astana and Semey hosted the International Forum for Nuclear-Free World, which was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site. The United States was represented at the Forum by Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman and Sam Brownback, the Governor of the state of Kansas. At the conclusion of the Forum, the participants adopted Joint Declaration, which confirmed the importance of fulfilling the obligations by all Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Declaration also noted the need to hold negotiations on further steps leading to global nuclear disarmament, to which all the NPT participating states are committed, including the reduction of nuclear armaments of all types.

On January 30 – February 1, 2012, Kazakhstan’s newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, made his first official visit to the United States.

On February 1, 2012, during bilateral negotiations with U.S. State Secretary Clinton, the two sides discussed the entire cooperation package in political, trade-economical and cultural-humanitarian fields. In addition, they gave a great attention to ensuring energy and food security, the diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy through the development of scientific and technical cooperation. The United States also shared its intention to be one of the largest investors and trade partners of Kazakhstan.

During the visit, the two sides also achieved an agreement on granting 5-year Visas and unifying the fees to obtain them. These Agreements will streamline visa procedures for tourists, businessmen, diplomats, students and other categories of citizens, considerably.

Foreign Minister Kazykhanov also held a number of important meetings with leaders from the United States Congress, as well as with the members of the US-Kazakhstan Business Association.

Also timed to coincide with the visit was the release of “Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence,” a book by British writer Jonathan Aitken.

On March 26, 2012, President Nazarbayev and President Obama held a meeting within the framework of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

The two leaders exchanged opinions on the nuclear security cooperation, non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as the Kazakhstan’s prospects for the accession to WTO.

President Nazarbayev called upon his American partners to more actively participate in the Forced Industrial and Innovative Development Program, an initiative to encourage cooperation in the fields of small and medium businesses, innovative, scientific and technological areas. In particular, he emphasized the importance of Kazakhstan’s transit potential for the development of international trade.

President Obama welcomed “the outcomes of last elections, which led to the formation of a multiparty Parliament in Kazakhstan,” and highlighted “the deep trust of Kazakhstani people to their Leader.”

The annual Kazakhstan-American political consultations continue to play an important role in the strengthening of bilateral relations. In 2012, the sides decided to increase the level of bilateral political consultations up to the Kazakhstan-American Strategic Partnership Commission.

In September, 2010, during the first consultation meetings, the U.S. State Department recognized that “Kazakhstan is the only country in Central Asia to have such an extensive and ambitious agenda of bilateral cooperation with the United States. The mechanism of bilateral consultations shows its efficiency and promotes further expansion and improvement of the Kazakhstan-American dialogue’. The second consultations meeting took place in Astana on March 24-25, 2011.

On April 9-10, 2012, the first meeting of the Kazakhstan-American Strategic Partnership Commission took place in Washington. Held in the form of a working group meeting, the commission covered the following areas: “Political Affairs and Security”, “Democracy and Human Rights”, “Economic and Social Development” and “Energy”.

The Commission’s work included three parallel “tracks”: the first meeting of the Kazakhstan-American Working Group on Scientific and Technical Cooperation; a road show “Kazakhstan Is An Attractive Investment Environment for American Business”, organized by National Export and Investment Agency KAZNEX-INVEST; as well as the NGO forum with the participation of representatives of the Helsinki Commission and 15 U.S. human rights organizations.