On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Kazakhstan as they celebrate 18 years of independence on December 16. The partnership between our two nations is based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and it enhances the security and prosperity of all our people.
The United States was the first country in the world to recognize Kazakhstan's independence, and in the years since we have worked closely together to improve economic ties, chart a responsible and reliable energy future, ensure regional security, and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan earned the respect and gratitude of peace-loving people all over the world by renouncing its nuclear arsenal and becoming a leader on non-proliferation. The United States looks forward to Kazakhstan's continued international leadership when it assumes the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe next year.
I have experienced the Kazakh people's warmth and hospitality first hand, and I offer them my best wishes as they mark this historic occasion. It is an opportunity to honor Kazakhstan's cultural heritage and reaffirm our commitment to work together for a peaceful and prosperous future.