Russia, Kazakhstan step up border, energy cooperation

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, adopted measures to ease cross-border trade and travel at talks Tuesday that also focussed on energy cooperation, news agencies reported.

During a meeting in the Russian Urals border region, the two leaders agreed to set up 19 joint customs posts and allow citizens of Russia and Kazakhstan to visit each other's countries using their internal identity cards, agencies said.

"The result of today's meeting is very important for people who live on both sides of the border," Nazarbayev was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

He said that that the formation of the joint customs posts should cut the time of border crossing in half, to an average four hours.

A Kremlin official quoted by ITAR-Tass said on condition of anonymity that Putin and Nazarbayev were also to discuss joint development of oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea and the future of the Baikonur space launch pad, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan.

Governors of Russian and Kazakh border regions, which account for 80 percent of bilateral trade, were present for the talks, ITAR-Tass said. Russia shares a long land border with its oil-rich Central Asian neighbor.

Associated Press

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