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Kazakh Officials' Visit To Afghanistan Highlights Growing Ties

Officials from Afghanistan and Kazakhstan have met in Kabul to discuss expanding economic and political ties, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Karpovich signed agreements in areas of trade, education, mining, and transport on September 27.

Afghan Commerce Minister Anwar Ahadi said the deals agreed include the export of 500,000 tons of Kazakh wheat to Afghanistan.

"We will be receiving a large amount of Kazakh wheat, flour, and cereals to combat our shortages," said Ahadi.

In a statement, he added that Kazakhstan produced more than 25 million tons of wheat this year, of which it only needs about one-third for domestic use.

The countries have also agreed to work on several joint projects.

A railway line linking Kazakhstan with Afghanistan via Turkmenistan is being constructed and is due to be finished soon, the statement said. The railway will allow vital resources to be imported to Afghanistan and improve trade.

Meanwhile, commercial flights between the two countries are also set to start next year.

Karpovich, who led the high-ranking delegation to Kabul, conveyed his condolences to Karzai over last week's assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani. The chairman of the High Peace Council, Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber.

Karpovich called Rabbani's death a "huge loss" for Afghanistan.

Karzai, meanwhile, welcomed greater ties with Kazakhstan saying that Kabul-Astana relations have improved substantially over the last decade.

"We welcome every step that is taken towards the development of bilateral ties," he added.