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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kyrgyz Join Program

BRUSSELS -- The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, hoping for closer ties with the West, signed NATO's Partnership for Peace on Wednesday after completing a separate trade-and-aid agreement with the 12-nation European Union. President Askar Akayev told reporters at NATO that his country hoped the partnership scheme, which provides for building military links between the alliance and other European nations, would help spread stability throughout the continent. He said Kyrgyzstan, the 20th country to sign, was particularly interested in NATO's help with converting its Soviet-era defense industry to civilian production.