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22 May, 2008 01:29

Medvedev heads to Kazakhstan to talk energy

Dmitry Medvedev will look to cement Russia’s close relationship with Kazakhstan during his first trip abroad as President, which starts on Thursday. Energy is expected to dominate talks between Medvedev and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

They will discuss the possibility of a new gas transit route along with the already agreed Caspian pipeline. The project should have Central Asia gas being piped to Europe in two years time.

Last year, trade turn-over between the two countries reached $US 16.5 BLN – that's 20 percent of all Russian trade with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Ivan Safranchuk, from the World Security Institute believes that “relations with Europe will be in any way downsized or harmed”.  “However, future development will be in the Asian direction,” he says.

Russia is a key trade partner for Kazakhstan, and its main conduit for oil and gas.

Iskander Nasyrov is a representative of one of Russia’s main oil companies, Lukoil, which invests billions of dollars in the country.   

“Kazakhstan’s investment climate is very positive. The rules of the game are completely transparent. Kazakhstan is open to change and business initiatives,” he says.

The partnership between Russia and Kazakhstan is largely based on energy co-operation.

In two years time, Kazakhstan will take over the presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – something Nursultan Nazarbayev has been keen to achieve and has been given strong support from Russia on the matter.

It'll become the first post-Soviet and first Central Asian country to head the OSCE. It seems to be solid proof of Kazakhstan's success in stable economic development, as well as its rising authority on the international stage.

After visiting Kazakhstan, Medvedev will continue his Asian tour with a visit to China.