Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has stepped down after 30 years in power (Aris Oikonomou)

Washington (AFP) – The United States voiced confidence Tuesday that its warm relationship with Kazakhstan will endure after the sudden resignation of veteran strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev.

A State Department spokesperson said that the United States looked forward to “continuing our work with Kazakhstan on a wide variety of issues.”

“The United States and Kazakhstan enjoy a strong bilateral relationship, as demonstrated by President Trump’s historic meeting with President Nazarbayev last year, and we expect this momentum to continue,” the spokesperson said.

Trump welcomed Nazarbayev last year to the White House to pledge close economic and political ties with the vast Central Asian nation that borders US rivals Russia and China.

Kazakhstan has pleased the United States by voluntarily giving up its nuclear weapons following the fall of the Soviet Union and offering logistical support to the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

The 78-year-old strongman said in an address to the nation that he was quitting after three decades in power, although observers widely expect him to retain control from behind the scenes.

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