NATO asks Kazakh help in rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan

NATO has officially invited Kazakhstan to take part in a peacekeeping operation to rebuild Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate.

All necessary documents have been sent to the Kazakh government, said Robert Simmons, NATO's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia. Simmons added that Kazakh military forces have reached operational compatibility with NATO units.

“But anyway the final decision on whether to send peacekeepers to Afghanistan will be made by Kazakhstan,” Simmons told journalists at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

Kazakhstan has been helping rebuild war-torn Afghanistan for 2 years. In 2007-2008, Kazakh aid for Afganistan reached $2.5 million, reports Kazakh news agency Kazinform. In March 2009 Kazakhstan announced it would continue assisting the rebuilding process.

However, in April Kazakhstan refused to participate in upcoming NATO-led war games, code named ‘Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09’, to be held in Georgia in May.

Kazakhastan is one of the key members of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces (CRDF) created under Russia’s initiative within the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Some experts consider CRDF to be a counterweight to NATO’s influence in Central Asia. Collective forces are scheduled to hold joint tactic exercises in Kazakhstan in September 2009.