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Bejing, February 23: Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State – Minister of ForeignAffairs Kanat Saudabayev today met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi in Beijing, as they pledged to work harder to build on the agreements reached by the two heads of state.

“Our strategic partnership has seen strong and consistent development due to consistent attention of the leaders of two countries Hu Jintao and Nursultan Nazarbayev,” said Yang Jeichi at the start of the talks on Tuesday.

Saudabayev shared his views, noting that the frequency ofmeetings between President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Chairman Hu Jintao created a strong momentum for relations. In his article in Jenmin Jibao published on the eve of the visit, Saudabayev noted that the two leaders met 18 times in the last seven years, including most recently last December when Mr Hu was in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to participate in the launch of a gas pipeline from Central Asia to China.

The two foreign ministers discussed a wide set of issues ranging from bilateral cooperation to cooperation within multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

Saudabayev passed along an invitation from President Nazarbayev to Chairman Hu to visit Kazakhstan this year, and discussed plans for the third CICA summit in Istanbul next June. Kazakhstan currently chairs the CICA but will transfer the leadership role to Turkey after the summit.

Saudabayev and Yang also discussed economic ties between the two countries. Last year, the bilateral trade between the two countries shrank by 20 percent from the record level of 17 billion dollars in 2008, due to consequences of the global economic and financial crisis. Saudabayev stressed the importance of Chinese soft loans and financing of up to 10 billion dollars last year, which has helped Kazakhstan better withstand the financial crunch. While the Chinese economy grew 8.7 percent in 2009, Kazakhstan’s economy also grew 1.2 percent last year.

The two ministers agreed to work on restoring the trade volume, including through the expansion in new sectors and the implementation of ongoing projects in the energy sphere.

Particularly promising are Kazakhstan’s plans to ship grain and wheat to and through China, especially since last year Kazakhstan saw a record grain harvest of 22 million tons.

Saudabayev also noted the huge potential for mutually beneficial economic cooperation with the Chinese companies given the launch of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and its market of almost 200 million people.

Saudabayev was one of the first foreign minister Beijing hosted after the Chinese lunar new year celebrations last week, signifying, in Yang’s words, the importance of relations between China and Kazakhstan, its eastern neihbour.

Saudabayev continues his visit to China with meetings with Premir Wen Jiabao, executives of the China National Petroleum Corporation and a speech at the Academy of Public sciences.

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