India, Kazakhstan to boost energy cooperation

April 7th, 2008 - 10:51 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Astana, April 7 (IANS) India and Kazakhstan Monday pledged to boost their cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector, a move expected to enhance New Delhi’s efforts to achieve energy security, as well as in food production, IT and education. Cooperation in the area of energy, specifically hydrocarbons, was “particularly” mentioned during a meeting here between visiting Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim K. Massimov, a senior official of the Indian external affairs ministry told reporters here.

The affirmation comes two days after India and Turkmenistan signed a landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) on engaging in the energy sector. The pact was signed Saturday during Ansari’s visit to Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat during the first leg of his six-day official visit to Central Asia.

During Monday’s meeting, the two sides “agreed on enlarging exchange of visits and expanding cooperation in areas of mutual complementarities. In particular, energy (hydrocarbons), food production (where Kazakhstan is a net exporter), IT and education were emphasized”, the official said.

“Earlier in the day, the Kazakh leadership reiterated its support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council,” the official said.

Kazakh Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reaffirmed his country’s support for the Indian bid during delegation level talks with Ansari Monday morning.

Ansari, on his first visit abroad since assuming office, arrived here Sunday night from Ashgabat on the concluding leg of his visit to Central Asia. He will meet Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev Tuesday.

With energy-hungry India dependant on imports for 70 percent of its needs, New Delhi is increasingly looking to diversify both its sources of supplies as also its energy mix, more so with the India-US civilian nuclear deal in a limbo.

Toward this, India is seeking to deepen its engagements with oil-rich Central Asian countries.

In a statement he read out after the delegation level talks with the Senate chairman, Ansari said: “We held discussions on increasing trade and expanding the areas of economic cooperation, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector.”

Tokayev termed India and Kazakhstan as “reliable partners” and said: “We have decided to establish a cooperation group to boost trade and commerce.”

On the talks with his Kazakh counterpart, Ansari said: “Our discussions were constructive and fruitful and covered a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues. The convergence of views on issues of mutual interest is heartening.

“We value the friendship and trust Kazakhstan has shown towards India and reciprocate these sentiments fully.”

Ansari again took up the theme of cooperation in his address to the Kazakh Senate.

“In the world of today and tomorrow, relations between countries would necessarily focus on mutually beneficial cooperation. Such cooperation would require matching of requirements and capabilities.

“This general proposition holds good for cooperation between Kazakhstan and India,” he said and offered Indian assistance to improve Kazakhstan’s educational sector.

Ansari said it was heartening to note that trade had increased from about $60 million in 2002 to about $196 million in 2007.

“However, with the economies of India and Kazakhstan registering impressive growth in recent years, there are wide ranging opportunities for both countries to expand the areas of economic cooperation,” he added.

Ansari is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and MPs Viplove Thakur, Vijaykumar Rupani and N.N. Krishnadas.

Ansari flies to Almaty Tuesday evening where the Al-Farahi University will confer an honorary doctorate on him Wednesday. He returns home Thursday.

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