- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A delegation of officials from Kazakhstan said yesterday that the former Soviet republic is determined to complete a series of legal reforms and continue backing the global war on terrorism.

“The main goal of our visit here is to inform the people of the United States administration, Congress and the public about the progress we have been making in the legal reforms for the past 10 years,” said Igor I. Rogov, deputy chief of staff to President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Kazakhstan, an oil-rich nation of 15 million in Central Asia, aligned itself with the U.S.-led war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks.

“We have provided the largest airport for the United States Air Force to use, and also free overflight rights for more than 1,000 coalition aircraft in the war to Afghanistan,” Mr. Rogov said.



He is part of a seven-member delegation visiting Washington this week for meetings with Bush administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Rogov, in an interview at the Kazakh Embassy, spoke at length on his nation’s efforts to stem drug trafficking.

“Kazakhstan is on the route from Afghanistan to Europe for transport of drugs, and especially the opium,” he said.

The nation plans to establish an agency to deal exclusively with drug trafficking, he said.

The most recent State Department report on human rights criticized Kazakhstan for corruption, especially in its judicial system, and for human rights abuses by police.

Last month the country enacted a three-year program to improve prison conditions, said Asanov Zhakip, vice minister of justice.

The goal of that program is to bring Kazakh detentions closer to international standards, he said.

Jury trials, he said, are also to be introduced in the near future.

Mr. Nazarbayev, the president, has ruled independent Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1999 he was sworn in for a new seven-year term after an election that was widely criticized because the government disqualified a leading opposition candidate on a technicality.

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