U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday pressed Kazakhstan to be wary of Chinese investment and influence, urging the Central Asian nation and others to join calls demanding an end to Chinas repression of minorities.
Bringing a message similar to the one he has delivered repeatedly to other countries, Pompeo told Kazakhstani officials that the attractiveness of Chinese investment comes with a cost to sovereignty and may hurt, instead of help, the countrys long-term development.
“We fully support Kazakhstans freedom to choose to do business with whichever country it wants, but I am confident that countries get the best outcomes when they partner with American companies,” he said at the press conference. “You get fair deals. You get job creation. You get transparency in contracts. You get companies that care about the environment, and you get an unsurpassed commitment to quality work.”
Pompeo also urged Kazakhstani officials to continue reforms that would allow greater U.S. investment and said the two nations were discussing the possibility of opening direct passenger flights between the countries.
Pompeo also discussed economic and security cooperation with his Kazakhstani counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tileuberdi. The United States is currently one of the biggest investors in Kazakhstan, comprising “18.5 percent of [its] total foreign direct investment.”
Tileuberdi and Pompeo talked at a joint press conference, about the contract that American agricultural giant Tyson Foods signed in December with the Republic of Kazakhstan and private holding multinational company Kusto Group also operating in Kazakhstan, on cooperation leading to a construction of a modern beef processing plant and “an entire ecosystem “for developing livestock production in Kazakhstan.
Also, Chevron and ExxonMobil will continue to invest in the Kazakh oil and gas sector, contributing to the development of the countys oil fields and job creation.
There is also a potential to expand the cooperation between two countries in the information technology and scientific research, said Tileuberdi.
Pompeo said that Kazakhstans reforms aimed to “strengthen the economic prosperity and democracy and increasing public confidence in the government,” which are welcomed by the United States. Pompeo and Tileuberdi emphasized that the “fundamental rule of law” and “basic protections for transparency in contracts” are the key prerequisites necessary to expand the economic cooperation between two countries further and are fundamental for Western companies to do business in Kazakhstan.
“The American risk-taking entrepreneurs will love the hardworking, capable, talented people here in Kazakhstan to be part of their teams, and we will do good things for American business and for the people of Kazakhstan when we get all of these opportunities brought to fruition,” Pompeo said.
Fighting International Terrorism Together
Both countries also cooperate in fighting international terrorism. The U.S. has provided border security assistance to Kazakhstan, and both countries cooperate in combating money laundering for terrorism financing, “narcotics abuse and trafficking, and human trafficking.” the statement says. Kazakhstan also helps to support the peace process in Afghanistan mostly through “providing logistical access to Afghanistan” and professional education to young Afghans.
Pompeo congratulated Kazakhstan on its repatriation of ISIS terrorists from Iraq and Syria. Kazakhstan has taken back nearly 600 fighters and family members detained in areas formerly controlled by the group.
“I have and will continue to commend the Kazakhstani government for its leadership in repatriating foreign terrorists fighters and their families from Iraq and Syria,” he said. “I hope this commitment to justice will inspire other nations to do the same.”
Pompeo praised Kazakhstan for its efforts to counter the spread of the coronavirus from China. He said the United States is helping the country, which shares roughly 1,100 miles of its border with China, with expertise from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and providing laboratory equipment.
Kazakhstans “quick action to stop the spread of the virus has been incredibly impressive,” he said.
Kazakhstan is among the growing list of countries that have suspended travel links with China.
Pompeo met with ethnic Kazakhs whose families have gone missing or been detained in Chinas widespread crackdown on Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in its western Xinjiang region. He praised the Kazakhstani government for not repatriating asylum seekers back to China at the Chinese government request.
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