British Prime Minister David Cameron has held talks with President Nursultan Nazarbaev and other senior officials during the first visit by a serving British prime minister to Kazakhstan.
At their July 1 meeting, Cameron and Nazarbaev signed a strategic partnership agreement focusing on economic cooperation.
After the agreement was signed, Nazarbaev told journalists that Kazakhstan is "ready to further strengthen the energy dialogue with Great Britain under the formula: raw materials in exchange for investments and modern technologies."
Nazarbaev added the deal included agreements on the development of mutual trade, transportation, and civil aviation.
Cameron said ahead of the meeting that business was the focus of his visit but not at the expense of human rights, a topic that critics fear has been crowded out by energy and other trade and economic concerns.
"We're in a global race for jobs and investment, this is one of the most rapidly emerging countries in the world, I have over 30 British businesses with me, we're hoping to sign over 700 million pounds' worth of deals that will mean jobs back at home," Cameron said. "And also investment in this rapidly growing economy. That's what this is about. But of course, nothing is off the agenda, including human rights."
Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan with a tight grip for more than two decades, tolerating no dissent or opposition.
At his news conference with Cameron, Nazarbaev told a British journalist who inquired about human rights issues and jailed dissidents that "no one has a right to tell us how to live and how to build our country."
Nazarbaev added that all Kazakh citizens have been "provided with basic rights and freedoms."
WATCH: Cameron visits Kazakhstan
Before their talks, Nazarbaev and Cameron inaugurated a massive oil and gas processing plant on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Royal Dutch Shell is participating in the operation of the Bolashaq facility.
The plant is located on the Qashaghan oil and gas field, one of the largest deposits found in Central Asia. It is expected to process 450,000 barrels of oil and 8.8 million cubic meters of gas daily when it becomes fully operational later this year.
Cameron led a large business delegation to resource-rich Kazakhstan, concluding trade deals expected to be worth more than $1 billion.
Cameron is also hoping to persuade Kazakhstan to expand transit rights for British military forces relocating equipment from Afghanistan between now and a planned withdrawal next year.
Nazarbaev has already granted overflight rights, but Cameron is looking for land transit rights, too.
With reporting by Reuters, KazTAG, Kazinform, and AFP