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Kazakhstan, Tatarstan Discuss Joint Economic Projects

Kazakh Premier Daniyal Akhmetov (file photo) (epa) ASTANA, October 13, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The prime ministers of Kazakhstan and Russia's republic of Tatarstan held talks today in Astana.

Addressing reporters at the end of the meeting, Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov said both sides were considering joining forces in the construction of a highway to western China.

He said the highway would link St. Petersburg to Korgas (Huoerguosi) in China's western Xinjiang Province, passing through Moscow, Kazan, Orenburg, Qizilorda, and Shymkent.

Akhmetov said the planned highway would be "the shortest road link between Europe and China."

An aide to Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, Iskender Muflikhanov, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service this project could positively impact on another prospective area of cooperation.

"We have great hopes with regard to the shipping, or the assembling [in Kazakhstan] of KamAZ trucks," Muflikhanov said. "Work in under way on this West-South highway project in Kazakhstan and, as a rule, our KamAZ trucks are irreplacable for projects of that magnitude."

The Kazakh prime minister today said he and his Tatar counterpart also discussed the possible creation of a joint venture to build military helicopters.

They also discussed tentative Kazakh plans to invest in Tatarstan's petrochemical industry.

(RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Kazinform, Kazakhstan Today, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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