- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

ALMATY, Kazakhstan Barely noticed as diplomats tried to broker a meeting between the Indian and Pakistani leaders here last week, a new pan-Asian security grouping got off the ground.
The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia (CICA) includes among its 15 member nations four nuclear powers Russia, China, India and Pakistan and speaks for nearly half the world's population.
With Israel included and the Palestinian Authority as a 16th member, it also includes the participants in the world's two hottest crises the Middle East and Kashmir disputes.
Egypt whose Sinai Peninsula is in Asia is also a member, as are Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
"It's a unique forum, and it's the biggest in Asia," said a deeply satisfied Kairat Abusseitov, the jovial, pipe-puffing Kazakh vice foreign minister who has been working on CICA for a decade.
The new forum is the brainchild of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who first proposed an Asian counterpart to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly in 1992.
"A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step," he told the United Nations in response to those who argued that Asia was too heterogeneous for the concept to work here.
Western diplomats said the Kazakh Foreign Ministry fought for 10 years to overcome deep-seated skepticism about the idea.
Their success was demonstrated by the appearance at last week's summit of the leaders of China, Russia, India and Pakistan, among others.
"Sometimes things happen in diplomacy because one individual won't give up," said a Western diplomat who declined to be identified. "Hats off to Nazarbayev: He never lost faith in his project and he rode himself a winner."

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