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Kazakh leader arrives for state visit

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazabayev’s arrival in the country for a three-day state visit to the Philippines is expected to strengthen ties between the two countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

Nazabayev arrived on board a special Boeing 767-200 flight at 3:50 p.m. yesterday at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City along with 27 members of his delegation.

The DFA said relations between the Philippines and Kazakhstan will get a boost with the signing of the protocol on bilateral political consultation and agreements on tourism cooperation and visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders.

The agreements were earlier proposed by the Philippines but were placed under consideration by the government of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, a former republic of the Soviet Union in Central Asia, is the Philippines 174th trading partner. The Philippines exports fresh and preserved fruits, apparel and industrial manufactures to Kazakhstan in exchange for iron, steel and electronic components from the former Soviet republic.

As part of the state visit, Kazakh officials will meet with their Filipino counterparts and conduct expanded bilateral meetings. The discussions will focus on proposals to improve bilateral trade, investments, energy, tourism and labor cooperation.

President Arroyo is scheduled to meet with Nazabayev to finalize the Philippine government’s intent to purchase oil and coal from Kazakhstan, and to discuss possible infrastructure projects in that country.

The Philippines is also eyeing Kazakhstan’s increasing need for professional and skilled manpower. Mrs. Arroyo, the DFA said, is expected to explore the possibility of deploying Filipino overseas workers to Kazakhstan.

To date, there are 600 Filipinos working in Kazakhstan, mostly in oil refineries. It is expected that demand for engineers, managers and skilled workers will increase due to the growth of the oil industry.

The Philippines established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan on March 19, 1992. To date, the Philippines has not concluded any agreement on trade, economic, scientific, technical or cultural cooperation with Kazakhstan.

The Philippine embassy in Moscow, headed by Ambassador Ernesto Llamas, has jurisdiction over Kazakhstan, which has no diplomatic representation in the Philippines. — With Sandy Araneta

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