ASTANA, Kazakhstan, June 25 (UPI) -- Kazakhstan this week hosted a high-ranking delegation from China, for whom it is building a major oil pipeline expected to begin construction in the fall.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev received a Chinese delegation headed by Li Changchun, a member of China's ruling Politburo, Kazakh TV said Friday. Li's rank indicates the importance Chinese leaders give to further boosting their already close diplomatic and trade ties with oil-rich Kazakhstan, the key to energy-hungry China's access to the reserves of the Caspian Basin.
"Talks with the Kazakh President focused on bilateral relations," the TCA news agency reported. "Throughout, the emphasis was on the two countries' friendly relations and strong economic ties," it said.
China is Kazakhstan's biggest trading partner. According to the official Kazinform news agency, trade between the two countries exceeded $3 billion in 2003.