Energy focus of Ansari’s talks with Kazakh leaders

April 7th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Astana, April 7 (IANS) Energy and trade were the focus as Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari began the second leg of his weeklong visit to Central Asia by meeting key leaders of oil-rich Kazakhstan Monday. “We held discussions on increasing trade and expanding the areas of economic cooperation, particularly in the hydrocarbon sector,” Ansari said in a statement after delegation level talks with Kazakh Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

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

The senate chairman also supported India’s bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.

Ansari is to meet Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim K. Massimov later Monday and President Nursultan Nazarbayev Tuesday.

The vice president arrived here Sunday night from Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat, where the two countries Saturday inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for engaging in the energy sector.

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.

India seeks to deepen its engagements with oil-rich Central Asian countries.

Ansari, on his first visit abroad as vice president, 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.

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, as he 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.

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