07ASTANA1544, KAZAKHSTAN PREPARING FOR GREATER INVOLVEMENT IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1544 2007-06-06 05:09 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6630
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #1544/01 1570509
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060509Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9681
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0195
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC//SCA COLLECTIVE/ 9682
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1757
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0332
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0043

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 001544 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA) 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN PREPARING FOR GREATER INVOLVEMENT IN 
AFGHANISTAN 
 
ASTANA 00001544  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1. (U) Summary: On May 25, SCA Special Envoy for Assistance to 
Afghanistan Ambassador Ronald Neumann briefed key government and 
business officials on the current situation in Afghanistan with the 
aim of encouraging greater Kazakhstani involvement in reconstruction 
and stabilization efforts.  The Kazakhstani officials acknowledge 
the importance of a stable Afghanistan to their own interests, and 
are in the process of developing an aid program for Afghanistan and 
encouraging Kazakhstani businesses to invest in projects in 
Afghanistan.  The Government of Kazakhstan requested additional 
information on potential projects in Afghanistan, and appears open 
to guidance from the international community.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
KAZAKHSTAN: "CONSENSUS HERE TO DO MORE" IN AFGHANISTAN 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
2. (U) On May 25, Ambassador Neumann met with Vice Minister of 
Foreign Affairs Nurlan Yermekbayev, Vice Minister of Industry & 
Trade Kuandyk Bishimbayev, Vice Minister of Defense General Bolat 
Sembinov, and the Prime Minister's international relations section 
head Serikbay Zhumabayev to discuss potential Kazakhstani 
involvement in Afghanistan. In addition, he met with Ulf Wokurka, 
deputy chairman of the Samruk state holding company, and Maksat 
Mukhanov, managing director of the Kazyna Sustainable Development 
Fund, to discuss business and investment opportunities in 
Afghanistan.  Ambassador Neumann described the current political, 
economic, and military situation in Afghanistan, the importance of 
success in Afghanistan for the whole region, and the priorities for 
reconstruction and infrastructure development in Afghanistan. 
 
3. (SBU) Ambassador Neumann's interlocutors consistently reported 
that the Government of Kazakhstan knows the importance of 
stabilizing Afghanistan and is prepared to step up its involvement 
there, both through development/humanitarian assistance and business 
investment.  Vice Minister Yermekbayev headed a Kazakhstani 
delegation to Afghanistan in April, and said that there is a 
"consensus here to do more" in Afghanistan.  He also noted that the 
Afghans were openly expecting assistance and investment from 
Kazakhstan, given Kazakhstan's proximity and economic success.  Vice 
Minister Bishimbayev also participated in the April delegation to 
Kabul, and agreed that stability in Afghanistan is crucial to 
stability in the whole region. Zhumabayev of the Prime Minister's 
office said that Kazakhstan's relationship with Afghanistan is a 
priority, and that Kazakhstan supports all initiatives aimed at 
stabilizing Afghanistan, particularly initiatives made through the 
Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, 
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Collective Security 
Treaty Organization. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
KAZAKHSTAN CURRENTLY CRAFTING ASSISTANCE PACKAGE 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4. (SBU) Bishimbayev heads the Kazakhstani side of a joint 
Kazakhstan-Afghanistan commission established to study Kazakhstani 
assistance and investments in Afghanistan and develop an aid program 
for Afghanistan. Bishimbayev reported that Kazakhstan is considering 
an aid program in the range of $25-50 million, and is currently 
focused on the construction of a hospital and the renovation or 
construction of schools.  He also said that Kazakhstan would 
eventually like to provide technical training to Afghans at 
Kazakhstani educational institutions. According to Bishimbayev and 
Yermekbayev, Kazakhstan hopes to finalize its assistance proposal in 
June, circulate it for interagency approval, and then host an Afghan 
delegation in August to discuss the program. 
 
5. (SBU) Bishimbayev indicated that Kazakhstan is very interested in 
obtaining additional information from the Afghan government and the 
international community about various projects under consideration 
in Afghanistan, and responded with interest when Ambassador Neumann 
discussed the importance of airport, road, and infrastructure 
projects.  He said that the Kazakhstani side has requested more 
detailed and comprehensive information from the Afghan government on 
the various ongoing and anticipated projects that Kazakhstan might 
become involved in, but that he is still awaiting a response from 
the Afghan side.  He expressed some frustration that he does not 
know the identity of his counterpart on the Afghan side of the 
commission after his initial contact, former Deputy Commerce 
Minister Hyder Reza, resigned. Bishimbayev said that the Government 
of Kazakhstan currently communicates with the Government of 
Afghanistan through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Note: Post has 
already compiled some of the information Bishimbayev requested, and 
will forward it to him.  End note.) &#
x000A; 
ASTANA 00001544  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
KAZAKHSTANI BUSINESSES SEEK INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
6. (SBU) Yermekbayev and Bishimbayev also reported that the 
Government of Kazakhstan is attempting to facilitate Kazakhstani 
business investment in Afghanistan.  Yermekbayev said that a 
Kazakhstani mining company is already bidding on a copper mining 
venture in Afghanistan, and expressed hope that Kazakhstani 
companies would find success in the bidding process for various 
projects.  Bishimbayev said that Kazakhstani companies were 
exploring projects including the construction of electric 
transmission lines from Tajikistan and railroad links from Central 
Asia to Afghanistan. 
 
7. (SBU) Mukhanov, managing director of the government-affiliated 
Kazyna Sustainable Development Fund, said that Kazyna stands ready 
to support private Kazakhstani companies interested in joint 
ventures in Afghanistan. Kazyna supports private investment in 
coordination with government policy, and offers support in the form 
of co-funding, credit, and insurance.  He said that a Kazyna 
representative participated in the Kazakhstani delegation to Kabul 
in April, and Kazyna has studied potential areas of cooperation 
between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, but has not yet been involved in 
any Afghan projects. Mukhanov reported that Kazyna is interested in 
additional information about doing business in Afghanistan, 
including how to promote Kazakhstani companies, factors for 
Kazakhstani companies to be aware of, and the legal framework for 
business activities in Afghanistan. 
 
8. (SBU) Wokurka, deputy chairman of the Samruk state holding 
company, explained that the state companies under the Samruk 
umbrella are not currently involved in any projects in Afghanistan, 
though it is conceivable they may be interested in the future. 
(Note: Samruk manages government-owned stock in Kazakhstan's major 
business companies, including KazMunaiGaz, KazakhTelecom, the 
KazTemirZholy railroad company, and the KEGOC transmission grid 
company.  End note.) Wokurka stated that in December 2006, Samruk 
was empowered to undertake infrastructure-related investment 
projects, though at this point investment projects are limited to 
those in Kazakhstan and its immediate neighbors. 
 
9. (SBU) Wokurka responded with interest to two projects described 
by Ambassador Neumann: a possible project to increase the capacity 
of Turkmenistani power transmission lines to Afghanistan, and a 
project to extend a portion of the Uzbek power transmission grid to 
Afghanistan. Wokurka requested additional information on these 
projects, and promised to contact the appropriate officials at the 
KEGOC transmission grid company to gauge their interest.  (Note: 
Post has already forwarded additional information to Wokurka 
concerning the Uzbek power project.  End note.) 
 
10. (SBU) Poloff asked Wokurka about the possible future export of 
excess electric energy capacity from southern Kazakhstan to 
Afghanistan.  Wokurka said that Samruk was involved in financing a 
new coal fired power plant near Lake Balkhash and a new 
hydroelectric plant, but these projects would be devoted to serving 
the energy needs of southern Kazakhstan, and would not produce 
sufficient energy for export. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
DEFENSE MINISTRY ENGAGES ON MILITARY ISSUES 
------------------------------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) In his meeting with General Sembinov, Ambassador Neumann 
received an overview and Kazakhstani perspective on the bilateral 
defense cooperation relationship.  Sembinov noted that the 
U.S.-Kazakhstani partnership had strengthened over the years and was 
on the verge of becoming something more comprehensive.  He 
highlighted the success of the HMMWV program, but noted with 
frustration the slowness of the Huey II program and the lack of 
progress on C-130 aircraft.  Sembinov closed his presentation by 
stating that Kazakhstan had taken great political risk in going with 
U.S. equipment, and that now it was the U.S.' turn to show its 
commitment to the bilateral relationship by following through on 
both the Huey II helicopter and C-130. 
 
12. (SBU) Ambassador Neumann then provided a detailed briefing on 
the current tactical situation in Afghanistan.  Sembinov and his 
staff were very interested in the threat level of each of the main 
Afghan sectors (north, east, south, and west), as well as the role 
of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan.  Sembinov 
 
ASTANA 00001544  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
was also interested in Ambassador Neumann's assessment of Taliban 
combat tactics and their success (or lack thereof) on the 
battlefield.  Sembinov provided no further details about possible 
Kazakhstani participation in a PRT, but said he understood that a 
KAZBRIG Peace Support Operation deployment somewhere in the 
near-term was essential to the long-term health of the KAZBRIG. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
KAZAKHSTAN CAUTIOUS ABOUT MANAS AIR BASE 
---------------------------------------- 
 
13. (SBU) In his meeting with Yermekbayev, Ambassador Neumann 
stressed the strategic importance to operations in Afghanistan of 
the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, and encouraged the Government of 
Kazakhstan to support continued operations at the base. Yermekbayev 
said that Kazakhstan supports the ongoing anti-terrorist campaign in 
Afghanistan, and promised to consider the United States government 
viewpoint on Manas Air Base, including at the upcoming Shanghai 
Cooperation Organization meeting.  However, he cautioned that 
Kazakhstan cannot interfere in another country's internal affairs, 
and that perceived Kazakhstani involvement in Kyrgyz affairs was a 
sensitive issue in Kyrgyz politics. 
 
14. (SBU) Ambassador Neumann also discussed Manas Air Base with 
Sembinov.  Neumann thanked Sembinov for Kazakhstan's support to both 
Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and said 
that the operations of Manas Air Base would be far less effective 
without on-going Kazakhstani support (blanket overflight clearance 
and Almaty airport emergency divert landing support).  Ambassador 
Neumann asked for Kazakhstan's support at the upcoming August 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek in deflecting 
calls for the removal of the airbase.  Sembinov stated that while 
the summit was a political matter, he understood the airbase's 
importance to coalition operations in Afghanistan, noting that 
Kazakhstan had proven its reliability as a partner in the War on 
Terror. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
15. (SBU) Comment:  Kazakhstani officials are sincere in their 
recognition that stabilizing Afghanistan is crucial to the region, 
and the government a
ppears poised to translate its verbal support 
for rebuilding Afghanistan into concrete action.  The planned $25-50 
million aid package is larger than Post anticipated, and Kazakhstan 
appears willing to tailor its involvement toward international 
priorities, including infrastructure projects.  Kazakhstan remains 
understandably cautious about venturing into new territory as a 
donor, in part due to lack of an assistance implementation 
mechanism; lack of information and poor communication with their 
Afghan counterparts may also hinder progress.  Post will continue to 
supply the government with information concerning Afghanistan and 
encourage continued movement on their aid package and business 
investments. End comment. 
 
MILAS

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