Italy, Kazakhstan sign new commercial agreements
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev signed on Thursday new commercial agreements aimed at boosting bilateral ties, Xinhua reported.
The deals focused on energy, transport and technological partnerships.
Italy's oil giant Eni and Kazakh state company Kaz MunayGas agreed to cooperate in research and gas exploration in Kazakhstan, while GE Oil & Gas, an Italian subsidiary of General Electric, signed an accord with Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund for a joint venture to develop gas resources and delivery via Kazakstan and Azerbaijan.
Italy's public railway, Ferrovie dello Stato, will instead help in the construction and development of the Kazakh national transport network.
Kazakhstan has vast oil and mineral resources and bilateral trade between Italy and Kazakhstan is worth 13 billion dollars a year. There are currently 130 Italian companies doing business in Kazakhstan.
Berlusconi and Nazarbayev jointly praised the good state of bilateral relations and urged an increase in trade exchange and strategic partnerships.
"Today we have signed economic agreements worth billions of euros aimed at exporting in Kazakhstan Italian industrial know-how," said Berlusconi during the joint press conference.
The Italian premier announced an upcoming mission of Italian small and medium enterprises in Kazakhstan.
Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, Economic development minister Claudio Scajola and Culture minister Sandro Bondi witnessed the signing ceremony.
On the same day Nazarbayev met with Italy's head of state Giorgio Napolitano. The two leaders called for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and in putting an end to conflicts in Afghanistan.
"We must foil the threat of terrorism and create conditions for economic and social growth based on well-being, institutional stability and security in Afghanistan," said Napolitano.
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in central Asia and has more than 16 million people. Islam is the main religion and Nazarbayev has worked hard to promote interreligious dialogue.
The Kazakh president arrived in Rome on Wednesday for a 2-day institutional visit and is expected to meet as well with Pope Benedict XVI.