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Kazakh Deputy PM Calls Ties with China Dynamic, Promising

Kazakhstan and China have enjoyed fast-developing friendly relations since they forged diplomatic ties 13 years ago, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Akhmetzhan Yesimov said in a recent interview with Xinhua News Agency.

The year of 2004 was specially important for the two countries' ties as Kazakh President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev visited China twice in the year and Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Kemelevich Tokayev toured Beijing three times, during which a string of strategic agreements were reached, he said.

Other key Kazakh cabinet members, including the defense minister, energy and mineral resources minister and transport minister, also visited Beijing in 2004, the best testimony to the dynamic and healthy relations between the two nations, Yesimov said.

A notable development was the convening in July of the first meeting of the Kazakhstan-China Cooperation Committee, co-chaired by Yesimov himself and Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi, the deputy prime minister said.

Kazakhstan highly values the establishment of the joint committee and hopes that it would serve as an efficient tool coordinating mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, he said.

The committee, set up in May 2003 during Nazarbayev's visit to Beijing, comprises 10 sub-committees and is responsible for implementing bilateral agreements and promoting cooperation in various fields.

Speaking of economic cooperation, Yesimov said bilateral trade has seen steady growth in the past decade, with two-way trade topping US$4 billion last year (US$4.5 billion by Chinese official statistics).

The two countries also carried out fruitful cooperation in the energy sector. The Atasu-Alataw Pass oil pipeline, a key part of a 3,000 km cross-border pipeline, began construction in 2004 and will be of strategic significance to both countries, Yesimov said.

The pipeline, linking western China and western Kazakhstan, will give Kazakhstan access to the market of Southeast Asian countries while guaranteeing China stable oil supply, he said.

The Atasu-Alataw Pass pipeline, to be completed in December 2005, will have an annual capacity of 10 million tons with its first-phase project.

Referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Yesimov said it features high in Kazakhstan's diplomacy. Kazakhstan is optimistic about the future of the six-nation body, and sees it as one of the key role-players in safeguarding regional and international security.

The SCO, set up in 2001, also groups Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The role of the SCO has been increasingly recognized by the world and more and more countries have shown willingness to join the body, Yesimov said. One of these countries is Mongolia, which took part in the SCO summit in Tashkent last year as an observer.

Yesimov said the priority for the SCO is to ensure effective cooperation among its member states in the following two aspects: to ensure the security of the six member nations through efficient coordination of regional forces and to improve the efficiency of multilateral economic cooperation.

Speaking of Kazakhstan's domestic development, Yesimov said his country is determined to carry out reforms in both political and economic fields. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) reached US$37 billion last year and GDP per capita amounted to US$2,500.

The United States and the European Union have both recognized Kazakhstan's market economy status, which proves that the country's economic reform was a step in the right direction, he said.

Kazakhstan enjoys a favorable international environment, as its historical disputes with neighboring countries have been gradually resolved, Yesimov said.

Kazakhstan, which stands in the center of the Euro-Asian continent geographically, follows a balanced, all-around diplomatic policy, the deputy prime minister said. It hopes to keep friendly relations with China, Russia, the United States, European countries and neighboring Central Asian countries, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2005)

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