Krishna to visit Kazakhstan, to focus on bilateral energy, hydrocarbon cooperation

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New Delhi, May 11 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will undertake a three-day visit to the Central Asian Republic of Kazakstan from May 11 to May 13, during which there will be a review of bilateral ties between the two countries, and an assessment of ways to take sectoral cooperation forward.

Ministry officials told media here on Monday that the visit would highlight and focus on two important sectors of cooperation -- hydrocarbon and energy, including civil nuclear energy.

Ajay Bisaria, Joint Secretary (ERS) said both countries would actively be discussing modalities to take cooperation forward in these sectors and in other sectors.

He also said that Krishna and his Kazakh counterpart would review progress in bilateral relations, especially since the January 2009 visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, besides discussing regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The spokesman of the Indian Government, Vishnu Prakash, described Kazakhstan as one of India's most important partners in Central Asia.

"We are both multi-ethnic and multicultural societies. India and Kazakhstan also have a strategic partnership, which was unveiled during the visit of President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, when he had come to India in January 2009. He was also the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Celebrations then. Both countries have an ambitious and forward looking agenda of cooperation," he said.

He said Latha Reddy, Secretary (East); Jawahar Sarcar, Secretary (Culture); Raghavendra Sastry, Advisor to EAM, Ajay Bisaria, himself and a few other members would accompany the minister.

A delegation of business leaders representing leading organizations and business houses like Tata International Limited, Sun Group, Apollo Hospitals, Punj Lloyd, Tata Motors, BHEL, ONGC, etc. are also accompanying the minister, he added.

"We have a very broad canvas of cooperation that includes sectors like agriculture, energy, including thermal energy, civil construction, mining, fertilizers, information technology, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and so on, and of course, the cultural sector, people-to-people contacts. That is a kind of canvas of cooperation that we have been working on," Prakash said.

During his visit, Krishna will have delegation-level talks with Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev. He will also call on the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov and President Nazabayev.

He will also address the India-Kazakhstan Business Forum.

On his part, Bisaria said that the Indian and Kazakh delegations were expected to take discussions on an inter-government agreement on civil nuclear cooperation forward, but added that he did not envisage an agreement being signed during the minister's visit.

He confirmed that the draft agreement envisages cooperation in fuel, in terms of uranium, mining, nuclear power plants and construction of nuclear power plants.

On how India was looking at the 18-member Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Prakash said: "We believe that CICA is a very important initiative and we have been very closely associated with it."

With reference to the Satpayev oil bloc, Bisaria said the issue would be discussed during Krishna's visit.

"We have accompanying the External Affairs Minister, a delegation of experts from the Ministry of Petroleum as well as from ONGC Videsh Limited which is the key corporate involved in these negotiations. We are hopeful that the sides will make progress. There is indeed an exploration and production agreement on Satpayev that is on the anvil. We hope that there would be positive movement on this during this visit," Bisaria said. (ANI)

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