Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev to Open the Year of Kazakhstan in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin will receive his Kazakh counterpart, who arrived in Moscow last night for an official visit, in the Kremlin Tuesday. The centrepiece of the visit's agenda will be the gala ceremony opening the Year of Kazakhstan in Russia, due in the Bolshoi Theatre tonight.

The decision to declare 2003 the Year of Kazakhstan was adopted at the two leaders' meeting in the Kremlin December 19th, 2002. The programme of the Year of Kazakhstan in Russia will involve "all spheres of life", Vladimir Putin said then, adding this event "will help expand traditional ties and open new prospects for co-operation." Nursultan Nazarbayev, in turn, stressed the Year would be "more than just a cultural event", it would bring about solution to bilateral problems.

The Kazakh leader continued the main thing was that 2003 will finally determine the future of the Baikonur air field which, as the Russian mission control assured Nazarbayev, "will have no alternative in the foreseeable future".

RIA Novosti's diplomatic sources in Moscow reported the forthcoming talks between the two leaders would highlight the prospects of Baikonur's development aimed at retaining its leading position in the world space infrastructure.