|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Briefing On plane en route Astana, Kazakhstan
April 15, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: On this particular stop I think what I am going to be looking at is what is the thoroughly developed relationship that we have with Kazakhstan now. We are obviously having fairly vibrant energy policy; we’re interested in questions of security where issues of nonproliferation, terrorism, and their general transition to democracy, so across the board there are a lot of issues to discuss with President Nazarbayev. He invited me . . . the reason I am going is that when he was in the White House in the Fall he specifically invited me to come, and so here I am.
QUESTION: Do you have some specific concerns about human rights in Kazakhstan given statements by Kazhegildin, Nazarbayev’s opponent in the Presidential elections who was barred from the race and human rights groups assessment?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well first of all, we have put out a country report that indicated that we did have problems with their human rights according to international definitions of various human rights standards and we will be talking about that with the President.
QUESTION: .Kazakhstan is threatened by Islamic extremists as (inaudible).
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would say that generally there is concern as I said in the region about extremism, terrorism, and those are some of the issues we are going to be talking about but I think that one has to be careful not to overstate that.
QUESTION: You think there may be an overstated concern about that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, that’s one of the subjects of discussions, right.
QUESTION: What is the deal with oil in Kazakhstan?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, they clearly have a lot of oil and it looks like they may have even more. And clearly with all the discussions about oil internationally, this is an important issue. We’re very interested also in making sure that the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is operating and useful and that they are able to use their oil in the most constructive way.
QUESTION: Do you think "the most constructive way" includes not sending it to Russia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, the issue is how to make the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline which the President has said is a high priority and that we talked about with Nazarbayev in Istanbul. I am sure that it would.
QUESTION: Is there anything more generally you’d like to say just about the fact that you’re going to Central Asia at this point in your term in office and how you see the trip affecting the region more generally.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well first of all, I have wanted to get here much sooner but there have been a lot of other problems that I’ve had to deal with. I was very glad when I met with President Nazarbayev in Istanbul, had a good conversation then and as I said, he invited me. I think clearly we have been very interested in the transition phases in all of the former Soviet Republics and in these in particular--Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan--and I think that this is a good time to see what progress has been made, what kind of economic reforms have been taking place, structural reforms in their transition to democracy, which is not a simple project. And we have, I think, legitimate interests in this region and I want to be able to discuss them with the appropriate leaders.
QUESTION: Can I ask one last question, not to labor this "great game" comparison that Matt seems to have latched onto. Diplomacy in that part of the world has to be seen as chess game. It always has been and always will be. If it is a chess game, how big a move are you making on this trip?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am not very good at chess, I don’t play games is my problem. I think this is a part of the world that the United States has always been interested in and should be interested in and that we believe that these former Republics have a very important role to play, that they participate in OSCE, Partnership for Peace, these are all links that we have with them. And I want to see about how some of them can be expanded and how these countries can be really functional parts of the international community and the fact that we can talk about issues that are of tremendous importance in today’s world, such as security, nonproliferation, corruption, how to deal with terrorism, things we have to deal with in common, and so in that regard, these countries are also very important.
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