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Rumsfeld Thanks Kazakhstan

Secretary Cites Assistance in Iraq, Discusses Caspian Security. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday thanked leaders of this oil-rich Central Asian country for sending a platoon of 27 soldiers to assist the military campaign the United States began in Iraq last year. The Kazakh military unit was small, but danger constantly accompanied its task: helping to deactivate and remove bombs, mines and other ordnance from roads and fields. In a 31/2-hour visit, Rumsfeld also praised Kazakhstan — one of five Central Asian republics created out of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 — for its record on nonproliferation. After gaining independence, Kazakhstan turned over to Russia the nuclear weapons it had inherited, and in 2002 negotiated an agreement with the four other Central Asian countries to create a zone free of nuclear arms. Full Story

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