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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo And Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
At a Press Availability
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
February 2, 2020

MR SMADIYAROV: (Via translation) Good day dear media representatives, we will start the press conference.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Beisenuly Tileuberdi and the Secretary of State of the U.S. Michael Pompeo will speak to you.

After the speakers give their remarks, you will have the opportunity to ask a few questions on today's meeting agenda.

Due to the visit schedule, Q&A time might be limited.

I now give the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tileuberdi.

FOREIGN MINISTER TILEUBERDI: (Via translation) Dear ladies and gentlemen, today I am glad to welcome my colleague, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on his first visit to Kazakhstan. It is our third meeting since last September. We met in New-York and Washington in 2019.

Kazakhstan and the U.S. have been consistently developing their extended strategic partnership founded on firm and predictable relationships intended to support peaceful development and prosperity.

We express our tremendous respect to the United States, which is the current biggest investor to our economy, for showing support to our independence and sovereignty in a systematic way.

Currently, our cooperation has the status of the Extended strategic partnership between Kazakhstan and the U.S. in the 21 century.

This level was achieved according to the results of negotiations that took place in 2018 in Washington between our heads of States, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Nur-Sultan and Washington are leading a quality dialogue at different levels and through different format of platforms to develop mutual cooperation in political relations; trade, economy, and investment mutual cooperation; security and fighting international terrorism; disarmament and non-proliferation; human rights and religious freedom, and other areas.

One of the great examples of the effective security cooperation between our countries is the Zhusan operation which is the first stage of the long-term reconstruction and reintegration process.

Constructive relations between public figures of our countries gave an important impulse to (inaudible) and (inaudible) of trade and investment relations.

Our negotiations with Mike Pompeo reconfirmed our intention to effectively develop Kazakhstani-American cooperation.

Today, with our American partners, we are discussing the questions of diversification of investment relations between our countries in a spirit of pragmatism.

The United States is considered by Kazakhstan a source of investment, new technologies, education, and global level standards.

At the end of 2019, one of the leading projects in the non-resource segment of economy, was the American agricultural giant Tyson foods arrival to our country after the visit of Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin. This project will give multiplicative results on the whole agricultural sector and other sectors.

IT, scientific research (inaudible) in industrial production, and many other areas have an important potential to further strengthen the mutual economic cooperation.

During our meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, we paid attention to expanding the legislative and regulatory framework with new agreements, to further diversifying the economic partnership, and strengthening the interaction with the United States in the regional format.

It is important to highlight the open skies agreement among the recent documents signed between Kazakhstan and the U.S. Besides launching direct flights between our countries, it allows us to implement the highest security standards for operational Kazakhstani air companies and airports.

We also discussed with our partners Kazakhstan's economic growth in the context of the U.S. sanctions policy.

The U.S. State Department will continue to support Kazakhstan in order to protect our legal entities from the impact of the sanctions.

We welcome our cooperation in fighting international terrorism, extremism, and the spread of radical ideology. We will continue our partnership with the U.S. State Department on the rehabilitation and reintegration of citizens returned from Syria and Iraq war zones.

Kazakhstan actively supports the regional format of cooperation through the C5+1 dialogue platform. Tomorrow we are planning to hold a C5+1 ministers meeting in Tashkent. (C5+1) will promote attracting investment and technology to the economy of the Central Asian region. It will ensure the improvement of the quality of life in our countries. It will also give an opportunity to effectively export to the neighboring Afghanistan (not very clear). This is one of the priorities that the United States emphasized in its strategy in order to strengthen relations with our region. I think Mike Pompeo will tell you more about this document.

Besides our long-term effective cooperation in non-proliferation and disarmament, we also discussed our priorities regarding the international agenda, including Elbasy's initiative on recovering mutual trust between world powers on the way toward global security, economic development, and prosperity.

Thereby, the U.S. Secretary of State visit to Kazakhstan will allow us to confirm our efforts to continue the cooperation in the framework of the extended strategic partnership, and to lay the foundations for its further development in 2020.

Michael Pompeo will discuss these and other issues today during his meetings with our President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the First President Nazarbayev.

Thank you for your attention.

MR SMADIYAROV: (Via translation) Thank you, Minister.

Now I turn the floor over the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Minister Tileuberdi. It's great to see you today, and I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow in Tashkent. We've now had a chance to meet many times, and I think that's fantastic for the relationship between our two countries.

Before I speak to our meeting today, I wanted to say a word or two about the work that the United States is doing to help Kazakhstan in dealing with the coronavirus. As of yesterday early evening, there were 46 potential cases under investigation here in Kazakhstan. Quick action to stop the spread of the virus has been incredibly impressive. The fact that your country shares roughly 1,100 miles, almost 1,800 kilometers, with China was obviously a cause for concern, and so you acted.

But the people of Kazakhstan aren't alone in their vigilance against this tragic outbreak. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a presence in your country here in Kazakhstan. We are helping your Ministry of Health track potential cases, and we're translating our CDC guidelines into Russian for your government. We are also providing laboratory expertise and materials to ensure testing adheres to international standards and provides correct diagnoses. And through USAID we are providing personal and protective equipment for lab workers and medical professionals here in Kazakhstan.

Just as we have gone to great lengths to help Americans afflicted by the virus, so too will we go to great lengths to help our friends here in Kazakhstan deal with it. It's the right thing to do, and we'll continue to provide assistance as long as you should need it.

To our meeting today. It's an honor to be here in Nur-Sultan. The Great Steppe reminds me very much of my home state, Kansas, the Great Plains in the United States. As I told the minister, the United States has long been and continues to be a committed friend of the people of Kazakhstan. Just 24 hours after your independence back in 1991, almost 30 years ago, my predecessor, Secretary of State James Baker, traveled here to support your vision for a sovereign, prosperous nation. Since 1993, we have worked closely on nonproliferation and nuclear security together. And more recently, in January of 2018, President Trump welcomed then-President Nazarbayev to the White House. It was a great meeting. I was there. Our conversations today reaffirmed those same commitments about a bright future between our two countries. I look forward to meeting the president and first president later today.

We started by discussing the presidential transition that occurred in 2019. President Tokayev has outlined an ambitious reform agenda aimed at strengthening the economic prosperity and democracy and increasing public confidence in the government. The United States welcomes these steps.

I also talked about the Trump administration's forthcoming Central Asia Strategy, which puts your independence and prosperity at the core of our approach. We fully support Kazakhstan's freedom to choose to do business with whatever county, whichever country, it wants. But I am confident. I am confident that countries get the best outcomes when they partner with American companies. 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. American companies are naturally incentivized to behave this way. It's just simply how the American system works.

We are pleased to have recently signed an Open Skies Civil Air Transportation Agreement that will create opportunities not just for airlines but for multiple industries in both of our nations. We talked today about the joy of being on a 13-hour air flight between here and New York.

In December, Prime Minister Mamin visited Arkansas to sign an agreement with Tyson Foods to collaborate on a new plant here that will support growth of Kazakhstan's agricultural sector. Additionally, historically great American companies like Chevon and ExxonMobil continue to invest in your country's oil and gas sector and help your future. They hire Kazakhstanis and take care to protect your beautiful, beautiful country.

Partnerships like these are good for all of our people. They are the best way for Kazakhstan to grow, to prosper, to have its own security and have great economic ties not only with the United States but throughout the region.

We had the chance, in addition to those topics, to talk about security. I thanked the minister for Kazakhstan's ongoing support of our efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and I have and will continue to commend the Kazakhstani Government for its leadership in repatriating foreign terrorist fighters and their families from Iraq and from Syria. I hope this commitment to justice will inspire other nations to do the same.

I also want to praise the progress the C5+1 has made in cooperating to address terrorism and radical Islamic extremism. Among other successes, Kazakhstan's early and frequent leadership within that group has helped make that possible, and I am excited for the meeting tomorrow in Tashkent.

Finally, the protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation. We discussed trafficking in persons and the plight of the more than one million Uighur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs who the Chinese Communist Party has detained in Xinjiang just across the Kazakh border. The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for an immediate end to this repression. We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum to those seeking to flee China; protect human dignity; just do what's right.

Once again, thank you so much for our time together, Mr. Minister, for welcoming to your great country. I look forward to coming back here soon. Thank you all so very much.

MR SMADIYAROV: (Via translation) Thank you, Secretary. Now we will start our Q&A session.

QUESTION: (Via translation) What are the Prospects of economic cooperation between U.S. and Kazakhstan?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don't have the sound. There you go.

FOREIGN MINISTER TILEUBERDI: (Via translation) Thank you for your question. We are indeed at a new stage of our bilateral relations. We talk about extended strategic partnership that outlines our mutually beneficial partnership at the global, regional, and bilateral scale. As you know, last year, the work on attraction of foreign investments in the non-resource sector of economy was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We currently pointedly work with our American partners, as I informed earlier, our prime minister visited the United States with a working visit in December, where an agreement has been achieved on the investment and launch of a common project with the biggest agricultural company Tyson Foods. The location for the factory has been already identified. It is not going to be only one factory. An entire ecosystem will be constructed to develop livestock production in Kazakhstan. It is a first good signal. If American companies previously actively invested in energy sector, now we open new areas such as agriculture, digitalization, and new technologies. Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: May I just add I agree that the opportunity is simply enormous. We've had long investments in the energy sector. That's important. We'll continue to do that. But we were talking about other places, and there were more than a dozen companies that are working on projects here. We were talking about a set of projects and rules that allow companies to come here that will provide them with what Western companies need – fundamental rule of law, basic protections for transparency in contracts.

The sky is the limit with respect to the things that we can do together to work between our two countries. 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. There are many projects in the pipeline, and I look forward to being able to come back here not too terribly far in the future and announce major gains for American investment right here in Kazakhstan. Thank you.

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