Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kassymzhomart Tokayev says his country strongly supports the U.S.-led war against international terrorism and efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.

In an interview with VOA following his meetings in Washington with senior Bush administration officials, Mr. Tokayev said he is optimistic about the strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States.

The foreign minister said his meetings with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have opened the way for increased political and military cooperation, and also stronger economic ties.

The Kazakh foreign minister's remarks come amid controversy over the continued presence of American bases in two Central Asian countries - Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Friday, Uzbek lawmakers approved the government's move to cancel permission it had given to the U.S military to use its Karshi-Khanabad air base for Afghan operations.