WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush on Friday welcomed Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the White House for talks on the ongoing U.S.-led campaign against terrorism and the former Soviet republic's role in rebuilding Afghanistan.
"We reiterate our intent to cooperate in the war against terrorism to its conclusion and within the framework of the international coalition," the two leaders said in a joint statement issued after the meeting.
"We underscore our support for a broad-based Afghan government at peace internally and with its neighbors. We also pledge our readiness to cooperate in Afghanistan's reconstruction," the two leaders said.
Kazakhstan was one of six former Soviet republics upon which the United States called for aid as it led an international coalition against Afghanistan in responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks which killed about 3,000 people in New York City and Washington. Kazakhstan offered the use of its air bases and agreed to host American forces there during the military action.
In the meeting with lasted less than one hour, Bush and Nazarbayev discussed weapons of mass destruction, and trade including export options for Kazakhstan's oil and gas supplies. The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan a decade ago, and since then the two countries have developed a wide-ranging bilateral relationship. American companies have invested more than $5 billion in Kazakhstan since 1993 with bilateral trade worth $488 million in 2000.
"We will strive to further develop an attractive, transparent and predictable investment climate. Achieving this goal requires removal of legislative and administrative barriers to investment, strengthening respect for contracts and the rule of law, reducing corruption, and enhancing Kazakhstan's strong record on economic reform," the statement said. The U.S. also voiced its intention to cooperate with Kazakhstan's integration in the global economy by supporting Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization
The two leaders also said that the United States would consider enhancing Kazakhstan's assistance programs to strengthen border security and increase defensive capabilities of its military.
On weapons of mass destruction, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The United States has been concerned that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden has been attempting to acquire biological, chemical or nuclear weapons and has called on the international community to assist in halting his Islamic extremist group from obtaining the materials and knowledge needed to achieve their goal.
"Both sides agree on the need for urgent attention to improving the physical protection and accounting of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons materials in all possessor states, and to preventing illicit trafficking in these materials," the joint statement said.
The U.S. spent $78 million on facilities under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating START-related systems such as intercontinental ballistic missile silo launchers, strategic heavy bombers, and liquid rocket fuel storage. They pledged to expand their cooperation on nonproliferation under that pact.