Robert Simmons, special representative of NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer for the South Caucasus and Central Asia, said in the course of a NATO delegation’s visit to Kazakhstan on April 22 that it is “important for us that Kazakhstan has advanced and signed the Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO,” Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. Kazakh Deputy Defense Minister Bulat Sembinov noted that more than 3,000 aircraft from NATO countries and nations in the antiterrorist coalition have used Kazakhstan’s airspace since the start of operations in Afghanistan. Sembinov added that coalition aircraft have made 360 emergency landings at two Kazakh airfields during this period. Sembinov also said that forces from the United Kingdom, United States, and Turkey will participate in Kazakhstan’s Steppe Eagle 2006 military exercises, which will be held in September under the aegis of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

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