Elections will not affect India-Kazakh friendly ties: Envoy

New Delhi, Jan 29: Irrespective of which party comes to power in the general elections by May, India’s policies towards Kazakhstan, marked by mutually warm and friendly ties, will remain the same, Kazakhstan Ambassador Doulat Kuanyshev has said.

In an opinion piece in the Astana Times, the envoy said India has been in the midst of “very active and – at times – fierce electoral campaign”.

“While main political parties and leaders may differ in their approaches and positions for the future, one thing a reader in Kazakhstan must be sure about – whichever party or alliance gets the majority in the new parliament, and whoever heads the government as prime minister, Indian policies towards Kazakhstan as well as pillars of Indian foreign policy will remain the same,” he said.

Drawing parallels between both countries as multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, he said the views of both countries coincide on all major domestic and international issues.

“Kazakhstan respects and recognises India’s global and regional standing. India is one of the key players in political, economic, global and regional affairs. We see the growth of India and we have full appreciation for the opportunities India’s growth presents to the world and to our part of it.”

Touching on the high-level visits between the two countries and the areas of cooperation, including IT, space, agriculture, food processing, the envoy said the 2009 visit of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for the Republic Day celebrations provided “significant impulse” to bilateral ties and several key deals and accords were inked.

While Kazakhstan accounts for more than half of India’s trade with Central Asian countries, with bilateral trade standing at around half a billion dollars, Ambassador Kuanyshev said one of the major impediments to expanding trade was lack of direct connectivity.

He said laying of new routes from north to south will play an important role in trade development and economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and India and reduce by half and even more the trucking distance and also reduce transportation costs.

India has been invited to be a part of the Eurasia project to develop oil and gas assets in the north Caspian Sea area, and ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) is keen to participate in it.

Currently, OVL, in close cooperation with KazMunayGas (KMG), is finalising preparations to start drilling on Satpayev exploration project, he said.

He said a proposal by India to set up a joint working group to study the possibility of constructing a pipeline from Shymkent in the south Kazakhstan to the border of India has received positive feedback in Kazakhstan.

“The prospects of cooperation between Kazakhstan and India are bright. We agree to work very closely and pragmatically to develop connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia. This is the key answer to many challenges which lie before us,” he said.

Civil nuclear energy cooperation presents attractive prospects for further diversifying our bilateral economic and commercial contacts, he said.

IANS