ASTANA (Reuters) – Britain will help Kazakhstan develop export routes bypassing Russia, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Saturday during a visit to the Central Asian nation, where he also signed a memorandum on supplies of vital minerals. .
Cleverly said London valued the position of Astana – which has traditionally been closely aligned with Moscow – on the Ukrainian conflict. Kazakhstan has refused to support Russia’s invasion or recognize its annexation of Ukrainian territories.
“The UK greatly appreciates Kazakhstan’s consistent and principled position in supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine and your willingness to bring a resolution to the war in line with the UN Charter,” he told a briefing.
Cleverly, who met with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and several other senior officials, said they discussed disruptions to Kazakh oil exports – most of which go through Russia – and to support the development of alternative routes. Discussed the methods of such as- called the middle corridor.
The route crosses the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, and is likely to require significant investment to boost its capacity, although Kazakhstan has already begun to divert some of the crude.
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Tactfully and Kazakh diplomats said they had signed a memorandum on important minerals such as rare earth metals, but gave no details about it.
The landlocked former Soviet nation of 20 million accounts for nearly half of the world’s uranium production and has vast reserves of rare earth minerals that the West traditionally sources from China or Russia.
Kazakhstan, which has the longest land border with Russia than any former Soviet state, last year called in Russian troops to help quell street demonstrations weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But since the invasion, Tokayev has been careful to keep his distance from Moscow and keep ties with the West open.
(Reporting by Tamara Wall; Writing by Olzus Ouyzov; Editing by Peter Graff)
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