Russia says energy ties with Kazakhstan not politically driven
Bilateral energy cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan is not politically driven, but guided by economic factors, Russia's foreign minister said on Monday.
Sergei Lavrov arrived in the Central Asian country's capital, Astana, earlier in the day on a two-day official visit.
"Energy cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan is based on common sense, economic usefulness, mutual advantage, and an understanding of common interests... It has nothing to do with attempts to politicize the energy sphere," Lavrov told a news conference following talks with his Kazakh counterpart, Marat Tazhin.
The Russian diplomat said the countries had a strong record as reliable oil and gas suppliers to world markets.
Lavrov highlighted the two countries cooperation through a Caspian gas pipeline project, and several other gas and nuclear energy projects.
Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan clinched a deal in May to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast to pump billions of cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan into Russia's network of pipelines running to Europe.
The Kazakh foreign minister said the pipeline project has no political motives behind it.
"There are technical issues, but we are optimistic about the future," he said.
Kazakhstan will maintain its energy partnership with Russia for the foreseeable future, he added.
In an interview with the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper ahead of his visit to Astana, Lavrov said bilateral trade reached $13 billion last year and was "constantly increasing."
Last year Kazakhstan transported 42 of its 52.3 million metric tons (384.4 million bbl) of oil exports via Russia. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev earlier set a goal of doubling oil exports by 2012-2015, saying this required the diversification of pipeline routes. ( RIA Novosti )