The Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey visited Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia this week to meet with defence leaders and military chiefs, for talks to deepen security and defence cooperation.
In Kazakhstan on Tuesday, he met with officials including Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant General Sultan Burkutbayevich Kamaletdinov and members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Mazhilis of Parliament, to discuss future cooperation on peacekeeping missions. The Minister also welcomed Kazakhstan’s support for the sanctions regime against Russia in response to the war against Ukraine.
For over 20 years, the UK has assisted Kazakhstan in building the capability of the Peace Operations Centre (KAZCENT), helping to enable Kazakh deployments on peace support operations such as the UN missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon and Western Sahara. These efforts have been underpinned by military English language training delivered by the UK.
The minister then travelled to Uzbekistan on Wednesday, where he held regional security talks with the Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Bakhodir Kurbanov, as well as the Commander of the National Guard, General Rustam Jo’rayev, and Special Representative of the President of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev. He also laid a wreath at the Victory Park in Tashkent to pay tribute to Uzbek soldiers who lost their lives in World War Two.
His visit concluded in Mongolia, where he became the first British defence minister to visit the country. He met Defence Minister Gürsediin Saikhanbayar and discussed cooperation on peacekeeping missions. The UK and Mongolia have an especially close relationship: our soldiers have served together in Afghanistan and as peacekeepers in South Sudan, and 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of the UK becoming the first Western country to forge diplomatic relations with Mongolia.
Minister for the Armed Forces, Rt Hon James Heappey MP, said:
My visits this week form part of the approach outlined in the recent Defence Command Paper as we build our strategic international partnerships across Asia, in the interests of security and prosperity for everyone.
I’ve held productive discussions with defence ministers and military leaders in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia, laying the groundwork for future cooperation, especially on peacekeeping operations.
As set out in the Integrated Review Refresh 2023, the UK is committed to strengthening engagement with Central Asia and Mongolia to boost their prosperity, security and resistance to Russian interference.
Source : GOV UK