Kazakhstan can play a pivotal role in addressing today’s global challenges
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Security and stability, while essential for global prosperity and well-being, have become increasingly endangered. Whether it is the re-emergence of the nuclear threat, violent conflict driven by extremism, the re-awakening of old tensions between countries or frequent humanitarian disasters, we seem further away from the peaceful, stable world we are all seeking to achieve. 

This failure is a major concern to the United States and to countries, big and small, developed and developing, around the world. And that’s certainly the case for Kazakhstan, the largest, most prosperous and stable country in Central Asia.

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Equal in size to all of Western Europe, Kazakhstan serves as a bridge between east and west, north and south. This position means we have many practical reasons for working hard, with our partners, to tackle problems, defuse tensions and deliver security for countries and peoples.

Kazakhstan’s quarter centuries of bilateral relations with the United States has been positive and productive, forging a partnership that is making a difference across a range of issues. The U.S. was the first to recognize our independence in 1991. The U.S. played a key role, for example, in helping us voluntarily and safely give up the nuclear arsenal we inherited on the break-up of the Soviet Union. We, in turn, have strongly supported American-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

It is a partnership which will be further strengthened when President Nazabayev visits Washington this week to meet President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE. It is a timely meeting, too, as Kazakhstan is mid-way through a two-year position on the UN Security Council, which it chairs this month.

As the first country from Central Asia to be elected onto the Security Council, it is both an honor and a responsibility. It is also a reminder that Kazakhstan does not just have good relations with the US but also our neighbors Russia and China, with Europe which is our main market, as well as nations across the Middle East and Asia.

These friendships have enabled us to use our good offices to promote dialogue and co-operation regionally and globally. For example, Kazakhstan is increasingly playing a prominent role in fostering peace talks, including in the Middle East, hosting the Astana peace talks on Syria. Helping create the environment which will make greater co-operation possible is one of our top priorities for our time on the Security Council.

We are also committed on the UNSC to give a higher profile to the continuing plight of Afghanistan. It is easy to see why the Middle East and particularly the threat from Daesh or ISIS was rightly at the top of the international agenda. Their hate-filled beliefs not only cast a terrible shadow over the region but have also taken terrorism into the heart of cities across the world.

It would, however, be very short-sighted to forget Afghanistan and the importance of continuing to help bring peace and tackle poverty within its borders. Nor can we allow the sacrifice made by the United States and many other countries to be in vain, particularly as there are signs of progress. This requires an increased global effort to provide the Afghan government the help it needs to bring stability and opportunity across the country.

There is, I believe, a special responsibility on Afghanistan’s regional neighbors to increase their support. Kazakhstan is already providing bilateral assistance to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure, to train its police force and to educate its young people.

We are also determined to build a successful regional economy into which Afghanistan is fully integrated. Providing the engine to lift its people out of poverty is, in the end, the best hope for the country. 

We are committed to continuing these efforts as we strive to play an ever increasing role in the global community. Kazakhstan will continue to act as a bridge between the East and West in an effort to promote a better understanding between all nations.

Erzhan Kazykhanov is ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States.