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Kazakhstan: Chinese Minister To Sign Oil Deal

Almaty, 24 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng is due today to visit Almaty to sign an oil deal with Kazakhstan.

The office of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev says that Li will sign a contract for China to extract oil in a Kazakh oil field some 50 kilometers from the Caspian Sea.

The Chinese national oil and gas company won the right to exploit the Ozen field over U.S. oil giant Amoco. It is expected to invest $1.3 billion in the field between this year and 2002.

The official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that the man almost certain to become China's executive vice premier in March will be part of Li's delegation. Vice-Premier Li Lanqing was recently promoted to the seven-member standing committee of the politburo.

China and Kazakhstan established diplomatic ties in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Correspondents say that China has paid careful attention to Kazakhstan in order to balance the power of Russia and prevent Kazakhstan from becoming a base for separatists from China's Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang.