Kazakhstan will serve as the host for sensitive international talks later in February concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The official announcement is a diplomatic coup for Astana.
When Iranian officials sit down at the negotiating table in Almaty with representatives from six international powers, Kazakhstan will gain kudos that will burnish its international diplomatic image and raise the prestige of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The event may also encourage the United States and European Union members to restrain criticism of Kazakhstan’s democratization shortcomings. “Kazakhstan has long tried to shape the state’s image as an intermediary in various conflicts and offer a platform for discussion of regional problems,” said political analyst Dosym Satpayev, director of the Kazakhstan Risks Assessment Group think-tank.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.