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FRIDAY, March 6, 2015

Central Asia / General

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Kazakh official tempers Baikonur threat ahead of CSTO meet

Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov reinforces Kazakhstan's desire to abide by agreement

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov reassured Russia on Wednesday that Kazakhstan intends to honor commitments already made regarding the Baikonur space center in central Kazakhstan, one day after explosive comments from Kazakh space agency chief Talgat Musabayev threatening to dissolve the agreement.

“As you know, in 2004 [Kazakh] President Nursultan Nazarbayev and [Russian President] Vladimir Putin agreed to extend the term of the lease of the Baikonur cosmodrome until 2050,” state media reported Kelimbetov as saying.

“The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, of course, confirms the commitment of those arrangements. In October 2012, Presidents Nazarbayev and Putin instructed the intergovernmental commission to study the question of sharing the Baikonur cosmodrome and the following year to work out the appropriate changes to the regulatory framework of our cooperation.”

The deputy premier added: “It is assumed that there are things that cannot be resolved through constructive negotiations.”

On Tuesday, Musubayev said Kazakhstan is ready to suspend Russia’s lease of the rocket launch facilities, saying “the rent agreement has now run its course.” Russia pays $115 million per year to lease the facility.

Russian media, including Pravda and Kommersant, has dismissed the threat as a low-level official posturing before the Kazakh parliament and does not believe the threat to preclude Russian use of the facilities to be viable.

Nazarbayev and Putin are scheduled to meet in Moscow on December 19 as part of a larger Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) meeting, which will focus on Uzbekistan’s status in the regional strategic alliance.

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