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    ASTANA, APRIL 7, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - Kazakhstan intends to expand its Caspian port of Aktau, formerly known as Shevchenko.

    At a session Wednesday, the Kazakh Cabinet of Ministers discussed a program to enlarge the hub and attract new investment in its development, the Cabinet press service reports.

    Prime Minister Danal Akhmetov, who chaired the session, pointed out that the Aktau port's "competently planned" expansion would provide a considerable growth in freight shipped through Kazakhstan, enabling the country to create a sea infrastructure up to the world standards.

    According to Akhmentov, Kazakh businesspeople now have an opportunity to distinguish themselves in a worthy project, one that would benefit the entire nation. "It is desirable that one of Kazakhstan's major project should become open to mid-sized and large businesses," he said. He promised that the Cabinet would continue its efforts to create all necessary conditions for the business community to get involved in the project, which he believes to be of great importance in terms of infrastructure development.

    Akhmetov instructed the transport & communications ministry to finalize the Aktau port expansion plan in early April, so that it could be put up for confirmation.

    Some 2,012,573 tons of merchandise have passed through the Aktau port since the beginning of 2004, as compared with 1,683,445 tons in the same period of last year.

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