Ismail Amet, a Chinese State Council member leading a governmental delegation on a visit to Kazakhstan, met with Prime Minister Kasymjomart Tokayev of the host country in Astana on Monday. The conferees discussed economic cooperation, and the problem of strengthening security and stability in Central Asia. They pointed to the fact that the bilateral commodity turnover in 2001 reached over $1 billion. Cooperation in the petroleum and transport industries is developing at a brisk pace. Political teamwork resolved border-area problems, with the 1700-km-long border having been delimitated and turned into a friendship zone. Chinese delegates emphasized their country's interest in expanding economic contacts with Kazakhstan, to who the Chinese government is allocating 5 million yuans as gratuitous aid. The delegates backed the proposal by the Kazakh parliamentary speakers that the two countries should step up their interparliamentary contacts. Jarmahan Tuyakbai, speaker of the Majlis, or parliament's lower house, expressed a wish Chinese MPs should pay a visit to Astana. He also extended an invitation to ethnic Kazakhs residing in China to take part in the world kurultai, or assembly, of compatriots, due to in Kazakhstan this year. On January 15, Tuesday, the Chinese governmental delegation is scheduled to visit Kazakhstan's former capital, Almaty.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land