French troops train in the Kyrgyz mountains

Army units from France have conducted two-week joint military exercises with Kyrgyz servicemen in the mountains outside Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek.

Other European countries, China, the United States and Russia also want to join in and develop military co-operation with Kyrgyzstan. This was the third joint exercise between France and Kyrgyzstan, focussed on warfare in difficult areas of steep and rocky terrain. Kyrgyzstan lies along a main route for drugs and weapons trafficking from Afghanistan. The U.S. and Europe both want to train and provide assistance to Kyrgyz security forces in their struggle with those running the trade. Russia has one base in the country and wants to open another. The U.S. also has a base from which it launched operations against the Taliban in 2001. China wants to improve relations further with Kyrgyzstan's armed forces, to play a larger role in guarding regional security.