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Kazakhstan will spend 50 million dollars over the next five years to educate 1,000 Afghans under an agreement between the two countries signed on November 22 in Kabul. Kanat Saudabayev, Kazakhstan’s Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Afghanistan to sign the agreement with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta. Mr Saudabayev also met President Hamid Karzai and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide.

Minister Saudabayev presented a letter from Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev to President Karza which congratulated the Afghan President on his inauguration and confirmed Kazakhstan’s intention to strengthen bilateral relations and to continue assisting in the stabilization and peaceful development of the nation.

During meetings in Kabul, officials discussed prospects of cooperation in political, trade/economic, and cultural/humanitarian fields, and exchanged views on a range of topical issues relating to international and regional security.

Kazakhstan has already transferred 2.4 million dollars towards reconstruction in Afghanistan, including funds for building a school, a hospital and road, as well as sending 2,000 tons of wheat in humanitarian aid. This year, under the Program of Assistance to Afghanistan for 2009-2011, 1.5 million dollars will be allocated.

During his meeting with President Karzai, Minister Saudabayev stressed the importance for Kazakhstan in participating in concrete projects to develop natural resources and infrastructure in Afghanistan, as well as the importance of increasing Kazakhstan’s grain exports to Afghanistan. This can be done both on a bilateral basis and through the UN and other international organizations, which, according to Minister Saudabayev, would be mutually beneficial and effective.

Under the agreement signed on educational cooperation over the next five years, Kazakhstan will allocate 50 million dollars to educate 1,000 Afghan students at Kazakhstan’s vocational colleges and universities. Beginning next year, Kazakhstan will receive annually a total of 200 students from Afghanistan for training in various spheres ranging from medicine, engineering, agronomy, education; journalism, law enforcement and border protection.

“This programme” said Minister Saudabayev, “was organized at the initiative of President Nazarbayev, who believes it is vital for international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan to include such constructive measures and the engagement of that country into social, economic and humanitarian interaction. Our assistance to Afghanistan is also a contribution to ensuring the stability and development of our entire region,” Minister Saudabayev said.

“Our two nations are tied by deep historical and cultural roots which create additional opportunities for further development of bilateral relations. We stand for Afghanistan’s active engagement in integration processes in the region, and the strengthening of mutually beneficial economic and humanitarian cooperation. As Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next year, we intend to do everything possible to use the potential of this organization to assist Afghanistan,” said Minister Saudabayev.

Kanat Saudabayev and Kai Eide also discussed concrete ways for Kazakhstan to cooperate with the UN in the stabilization of Afghanistan, as well as prospects for interaction between the UN and OSCE during Kazakhstan’s chairmanship next year.

While in Kabul, Minister Saudabayev also launched the Farsi edition of the book by Nursultan Nazarbayev, The Kazakhstan Way.

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