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    PUTIN TO OPEN YEAR OF RUSSIA IN KAZAKHSTAN IN ASTANA

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    MOSCOW, January 6, 2004. /RIA Novosti/ -- Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan on January 9-10 on the invitation of his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kremlin press service reported on Tuesday.

    On the first day of the visit the two presidents are expected to hold talks in a narrow and broad format. The parties will discuss the whole range of bilateral issues. Then they will attend the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia in Kazakhstan.

    On the second day Putin will visit a number of objects in the new Kazakh capital and will lay a wreath to the monument of Fatherland's Defenders.

    Bilateral relations between the two countries are based on the Agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid of May 25, 1992, the Joint declaration on eternal friendship and alliance oriented for the 21st century of July 6, 1992.

    Last year the trade turnover between Russia and Kazakhstan amounted to over $4 billion, while its potential totals at least $10 billion.

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