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Hu in Kazakhstan for talks on terrorism, energy
Updated: 2005-07-04 20:28

The presidents of China and Kazakhstan held talks on terrorism and energy in Kazakhstan's capital, hailing what they said was a historic agreement to forge a strategic bilateral partnership.

Chinese President Hu Jintao inspects honour guard soldiers upon his arrival at Moscow airport, June 30, 2005. [AFP]

"The signing of the joint declaration on the creation and development of Chinese-Kazakh relations into a strategic partnership has historical significance," Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Monday at a lavish ceremony in the Central Asian republic.

Hu arrived in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, with a 150-person delegation late Sunday ahead of a regional anti-terrorism summit that starts Tuesday.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev called Hu a "great friend" and lauded his partnership agreement with the Chinese leader as a "document for the centuries."

China is eager to secure a share of Kazakhstan's massive Caspian Sea oil reserves and has expressed interest in transiting Chinese goods west through the former Soviet republic.

The two leaders signed a raft of agreements on security and economic cooperation and agreed to analyze the possibility of constructing a gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to China, according to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Construction of an oil pipeline from Kazakh fields in the Caspian Sea to China is already underway and is due for completion on December 16, Nazarbayev said.

Also topping Monday's agenda were anti-terrorism issues, in the context of a cooling in relations between Central Asian states and the United States over their different interpretations of violence that flared in eastern Uzbekistan in mid-May.

Hu pledged to expand security cooperation to counter "the three evil forces," which he described as terrorism, extremism and separatism.

China secured a commitment from Kazakhstan to help it counter Islamic terrorists in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region that borders the Central Asian state, while Beijing has pledged to support Astana in its bid to join the World Trade Organization.

The two presidents' meeting takes place a day before the leaders of Russia, China and four Central Asian states meet for a two-day anti-terrorism summit.

Hu is in Kazakhstan following a four-day visit to Russia where Beijing reaffirmed its strategic alliance with Moscow by vowing to oppose any one state's "domination of international affairs."

Known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the grouping brings together the leaders of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in addition to Russian and China and has styled itself as a counterweight to US global dominance.

Top officials from India, Pakistan and Iran also arrived in Astana on Monday after requesting observer status for the SCO gathering.

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