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    KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA READY FOR INTEGRATION WITHIN SINGLE ECONOMIC SPACE, SAYS KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER

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    ASTANA, JANUARY 23, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT ALISHER NIYAZOV). Kazakhstan and Russia are ready for integration within the framework of a Single Economic Space (SEC), said Kazakh foreign minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev in Astana on Friday. He spoke at an international conference "Kazakh-Russian Interaction in the 21st Century and Challenges of Globalization." Tokayev believes that this is explained by "similar economic systems and identical approaches to economic reforms." "Both Kazakhstan and Russia are interested in integration from the geopolitical and geostrategic viewpoints," Tokayev pointed out and stressed that Kazakhstan, on the whole, "firmly supports the development and strengthening of mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia." According to the Kazakh foreign minister, "taking into account the well-known historic, demographic, cultural and economic factors a different policy with respect to Russia is impossible because it would counter the national interests of Kazakhstan." The opening ceremony of the international conference "Kazakh-Russian Interaction in the 21st Century and the Challenges of Globalization" was held in Astana on Friday. This event was organized within the framework of the Year of Russia in Kazakhstan. Taking part in the conference are prominent political and public figures, and well-known scientists from Kazakhstan, Russia, the United States, Great Britain and France.
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