Turkey Offers Military Aid to Kyrgyzstan to Fight Extremism
Turkey pledged Wednesday to provide Kyrgyzstan with military aid as the tiny Central Asian republic struggles against a rising tide of Islamic extremism in the region.
"Turkey sharply condemns the actions of international terrorist groups aimed at overturning the democratic order," said Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer during his visit to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
"Turkey will continue to provide military aid aimed at staving off the incursion of destructive elements in Central Asia," he added after one-on-one talks with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev.
Sezer's visit to Kyrgyzstan comes after the tiny republic was, for the second year running, subject to attacks in the southern Batken region by Islamic extremists.
The rebels apparently wish to create an Islamic state in the Ferghana Valley, which straddles Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The region has also increasingly been plagued by an influx of narcotics traffickers and radical Islamic groups, allegedly trained in Afghanistan.
Sezer said Turkey had provided Kyrgyzstan with military help following the Batken events and would give further aid to counter international terrorism and strengthen the republic's security.
Turkey provided Kyrgyzstan with 240,000 dollars worth of military aid last year, including border security and communications equipment, Kyrgyz Defense Minister Esen Topoyev said.
The country had said it would give a further 2.5 million dollars this year, 1.5 million dollars of which was agreed before Sezer's visit, said Topoyev.
After their talks, the Turkish leader and his Kyrgyz counterpart signed a joint declaration on the fight against terrorism, according to which an expert group will be formed to regularly discuss measures to counter terrorism.
Uzbekistan, where Sezer began his tour of four Central Asian states, has also been targed by the extremists, who allegedly wish to overthrow the iron-fisted regime of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
In Uzbekistan, Sezer also signed an agreement to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking.
The Turkish president's whistle stop tour is aimed at boosting relations and reinforcing Turkey's desire to be a player in the resource-rich region.
Sezer said he hoped the visit would give a new impulse to Turkish and Kyrgyz bilateral relations and invited Akayev to a summit of Turkic nations, which is expected to take place in Turkey in April next year.
Turkey has strong ethnic ties with the Turkic-speaking Central Asian states and is competing with countries including Russia, China and Iran for influence in the area.
The Turkish president was due to travel to Kazakhstan on Thursday and will return to Turkey on Friday – BISHKEK (AFP)
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