President of Kazakhstan meets Trump ahead of key UN appearance

Donald Trump and Nursultan Nazabayev [The White House]

The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazabayev is in the US where he met on Tuesday (16 January) with US President Donald Trump. But the main purpose of his visit is a speech at the United Nations where Kazakhstan holds the Presidency of the Security Council for January.

Nazerbayev, the leader of the country since its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, is in the US from 16 to 18 January. It is the first time the country has been elevated to the top level of global diplomacy. In a landslide victory in 2016, Kazakhstan secured 138 votes against Thailand’s 55 in its bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2017-2018.

According to the White House transcript, which reflects the beginning of the conversation until journalists are asked to leave, Nazabayev thanked Trump for being the first president of this part of the world to be received by him. The transcript quotes Trump bragging about the success of the US economy since he took office. One journalist asks Trump if it is true that he wanted more immigrants from Norway, to which Trump said he wanted people to come in “from everywhere”.

The question was prompted after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries.

Global backlash over Trump’s ‘shithole’ remark

African politicians and diplomats labeled US President Donald Trump a racist on Friday (12 January) after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries.

Another journalist asked Trump if there was money from Kazakhstan in the Trump Soho tower, to which the US President replied “No idea. Really no idea.”

Planes, locomotives

Reuters quotes Nazarbayev saying that his country has reached agreements with several US companies worth $7.5 billion, including contracts to supply passenger planes and locomotives to the Central Asian country.

“The contracts will be about purchasing additional Boeing planes … and assembling 900 new General Electric locomotives in Kazakhstan,” Nazarbayev said following the meeting with Trump at the White House.

Nazarbayev said some of the contracts, which were unveiled later on Tuesday, also included investments in the agricultural sector.

The press in Kazakhstan quotes Nazarbayev saying that his country is concerned about the relations between the US and Russia that “have gone down to zero”.

“The North Korea problem can be solved only by joint efforts of the USA, Russia and China. And we, the neighbours of Russia, are concerned about the political relations between the US and Russia that have gone down to zero,” said Nazarbayev.

He also praised the US anti-terrorist efforts and said the presence of the US army in Afghanistan is not just America’s matter but the whole world’s.

He spoke about Kazakhstan’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan: “Kazakhstan provided humanitarian and technical aid totaling $75 million and gives education for thousands of young Afghan students totaling $50 million.”

Nuclear non-proliferation

On 18 January a high level thematic debate in the UN is planned on the subject of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and measures of trust. Nazarbayev will preside over this meeting. As expected, other states will be represented at the level of heads of state and ministers of foreign affairs.

Kazakhstan has made nuclear non-proliferation one of its biggest foreign affairs priorities, if not the biggest. It has recently inaugurated a Low Enriched Uranium Bank on Tuesday (29 August), backed by the IAEA. The EU, one of the project’s biggest donors, hailed it as a “success for international cooperation” on nuclear non-proliferation.

EU hails inauguration of international uranium bank in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan inaugurated a Low Enriched Uranium Bank on Tuesday (29 August), backed by the IAEA. The EU, one of the project’s biggest donours, hailed it as a “success for international cooperation” on non-proliferation. EURACTIV.com reports from Ust-Kamenogorsk and Astana.

Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the situation in Afghanistan, Central Asia and in the Middle East will be the highlights of Kazakhstan’s presidency of the UNSC during this month.

At the initiative of Kazakhstan for the first time in the history of the UN a flag-raising ceremony for the six newly-elected non-permanent members of the Security Council is being organised (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Poland, Peru and Netherlands were elected last June).