Remarks by Minister Idrissov and Secretary Kerry Before Their Meeting

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SECRETARY KERRY: It’s my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Idrissov of Kazakhstan. You okay? Sorry. I’m really delighted to welcome the foreign minister here and I want to congratulate him and Kazakhstan on the near 23rd anniversary of their independence. It’s on December 16th. And we have enjoyed a growing security partnership, economic partnership, on any number of issues.

SECRETARY KERRY: We are working on the challenge of ISIL, of counterterrorism. We’re very grateful for Kazakhstan’s engagement with us on a number of issues – nonproliferation, issues of Afghanistan, trade, development. We’re working hard on Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO. And I think it’s fair to say that in the region the relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan is really one of the most consequential for us, and we’re very grateful for the leadership that Kazakhstan has been showing. So we have a full agenda and I’m very, very pleased to welcome you, Mr. Foreign Minister. Thank you for taking time to be here.

FOREIGN MINISTER IDRISSOV: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. It happens so that Kazakhstan is a little bit ahead of the United States and by Kazakh time it’s already almost 11th of December. So first of all, I’d like to congratulate Secretary Kerry with his birthday and wish him every success in his very important global endeavors. As Secretary Kerry said, we have very full agenda. Our bilateral agenda covers all sorts of issues ranging from security, nonproliferation, investment, energy sector, of course nation and democracy building, and education. But we also have very robust global and regional agenda. We do discuss issues on Afghanistan, around negotiations on Iran, on crises like the so-called Islamic State or the Ebola epidemic. So we are tuned to the same wave and we are very happy to have this very meaningful strategic partnership. I am very proud that today we will have the third meeting of our Strategic Partnership Dialogue with Secretary Kerry, and I came here to confirm our strong desire to cement further the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States and take it to the future.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Erlan.

FOREIGN MINISTER IDRISSOV: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’d like to just mention one other thing which I was reminded of as the foreign minister spoke. Kazakhstan has initiated a very important education program for Afghan students, some $50 million they’ve committed to this effort. There are Afghans who are now in significant numbers studying in Kazakhstan, and this will be a critical component of capacity building for Afghanistan and of stability. So we’re very grateful for that kind of major effort. We thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER IDRISSOV: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend.

FOREIGN MINISTER IDRISSOV: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Come on in and have a --

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, are you concerned for U.S. personnel overseas following the release of the report?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think we’ve addressed that (inaudible). Thank you.