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Kazakh/China: Almaty And Beijing Discuss Central Asian Tensions

Almaty, 13 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian said today China and Kazakhstan should work together to ease tensions in central Asia.

Chi, who is on an official visit to Kazakhstan, met today with Kazakh Prime Minister Akejan Kagegeldin.

After the talks the Kazakh premier said there were "no political obstacle" to the strenghtening of relations between the two countries.

Kagegeldin and Chi hailed a 4,000 million dollar contract, signed last week, under which China will develop three Kazakh oil fields.

It is believed that talks during Chi's visit include discussion of unrest in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, which borders Kazakhstan, where some of the province's ethnic Uighurs are pressing for independence. Kazakhstan has said it opposes the independence bid but it has also criticised Beijing for human rights abuses in dealing with Uighur activists. There are some 200,000 Muslim Uighurs living in Kazakhstan.

Chi is scheduled to leave Kazakhstan on Monday for neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.