Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev is keen to secure global recognition of the Central Asian nation's achievements its booming economy, its market reforms and more controversially its political reform program. During his four-day visit to the United States, beginning September 26, Nazarbayev will be looking to cement Kazakhstan's image as a regional leader with a role to play on the international stage.
Over the last 18 months, the United States has experienced a series of geopolitical setbacks in Central Asia. The most severe blow to American interests was the rupture of US-Uzbek ties over the Andijan events of May 2005. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. More recently, US-Kyrgyz relations have been strained by difficult negotiations on a lease extension for the American air base outside of Bishkek, as well as by a spy scandal that caused a diplomatic spat. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. In Washington, Nazarbayev reportedly will stress Kazakhstan's dependability as a friend of the United States.
"This is a very interesting and important visit," Sanat Kushkumbayev, deputy director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, told EurasiaNet. "Astana is attaching great significance to this visit
Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asian affairs.