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    Russia-Kazakhstan border agreement crucial - diplomat

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    MOSCOW, January 8 (RIA Novosti) - The border agreement that Russia and Kazakhstan signed last January had historical significance for bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday, summing up last year's bilateral relations.

    The agreement, which both parliaments ratified last November, crowned almost four years of negotiations on the 7,500 km border, which is now the longest transparent border in the world. The borderline had remained unclear in the wake of the Soviet Union's disintegration.

    The agreement settled disputed border issues, and stipulated that the Imashevskoye gas condensate deposit, through which the border runs, be developed through joint efforts. The sides also kept a visa-free regime.

    Commenting on the economic progress in bilateral relations, Mikhail Kamynin, the ministry's spokesman, said trade between the two countries had topped $9 billion in 2005.

    Kamynin added that Russia and Kazakhstan also planned to sign an agreement to open the Eurasian Development Bank with $1.5 billion in authorized capital and branches in St. Petersburg and Alma-Ata.

    According to Kamynin, the bilateral economic agenda also included a cooperation agreement between Russia's state-owned foreign trade bank Vneshekonombank and Kazakhstan's Development Bank.

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