David Cameron became the first serving prime minister to visit Kazakhstan as he began a visit to the mineral-rich country with hopes of boosting British trade.
Discussions with president Nursultan Nazarbayev are set to focus on trade and using Kazakhstan as an exit route for British equipment as combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
Cameron follows in the footsteps of former prime minister Tony Blair who has played a key role in helping Kazakhstan’s development since leaving office.
Kazakhstan’s foreign minister Erlan Idrissov said: “We are very honoured and privileged to have such attention on the part of two prime ministers (towards) Kazakhstan – Tony Blair and David Cameron.”
He added that “we cherish and enjoy the support of developed countries” on the path to development.
In his opening remarks, the prime minister focused on the new relationship between Britain and Kazakhstan – with trade possibly reaching £85bn. He made a point of praising Astana, designated by the president as capital in 1997, as an extraordinary city.
Cameron, who was accompanied by 33 business leaders, said: “I am delighted to be in Astana today – the first serving British prime minister to come to Kazakhstan. Frankly, such a visit is long overdue. The question should not be: why is the British prime minister in Kazakhstan? The question is: why has it taken a British prime minister so long to visit? Kazakhstan is on the rise – a dynamic country that is poised to become a high-income country by the end of this decade.”
Source: Sky News