A new agreement with Kazakhstan will enhance the ability of the United States to transport by air its personnel and equipment across Kazakhstan's airspace to American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The agreement signed in Washington by Andrew Shapiro, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs and Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan's ambassador to Washington, permits the use of polar routes to ship cargo from the United States to Afghanistan through Kazakhstan.
A joint statement issued by the U.S. State Department and Kazakhstan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the arrangement "will enable the United States 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."
The latest agreement enhances an existing United States-Kazakhstan arrangement, under which the United States began transit flights to Afghanistan across Kazakhstan's airspace in 2001.
The signing of the new transit agreement cemented a commitment made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayez and President Barack Obama in April, 2010. 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 by this Air Transit Agreement, helps to counter these negative trends by enabling progress on common efforts regarding the security, stabilization, and reconstruction of Afghanistan.