BEIJING - China and Kazakhstan are discussing the construction of a natural gas transportation system following an oil pipeline linking the two countries was built in December.
This was one of the topics that visiting Vice-President Zeng Qinghong discussed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana yesterday.
"I attended the inauguration of the Atasu-Alashankou oil pipeline last December and we are currently discussing the construction of a natural gas transportation system," the Kazakh leader was quoted by RIA Novosti News Agency as saying.
Zeng arrived in the Kazakh capital on Monday for a four-day official visit and will attend, on behalf of Chinese President Hu Jintao, the inauguration ceremony of the country's re-elected President Nazarbayev.
"To promote the sound development of bilateral ties, the two sides should expand economic and trade partnerships by improving investment and pushing for co-operation in significant projects," Zeng said during a meeting with the president.
Nazarbayev is expected to be inaugurated for his third term as president today.
With oil-rich Kazakhstan looking to increase crude supplies to China, Nazarbayev praised co-operation in the energy field between the two nations.
The US$700 million pipeline, with an initial annual capacity of 10 million tons of oil and a full capacity of 20 million tons, is expected to start operation in May.
Nazarbayev said he hopes the bilateral trade volume could increase to US$10 billion this year.
According to the official statistics, between January and November last year, the trade volume between China and Kazakhstan reached more than US$6.1 billion.
Besides bilateral trade, the two countries have been co-operating with each other under the framework of the United Nations, the Shanghai Co-operation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.
While expressing his appreciation for Kazakhstan's support of China on questions such as Taiwan, Tibet and its crackdown on "the three evil forces" terrorism, extremism and separatism, Zeng said China will always support Kazakhstan's efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and national stability.
"No matter how the international and regional situation changes, China will remain Kazakhstan's good neighbour, sincere friend and reliable partner," Zeng said, adding that China is willing to work with Kazakhstan to push the relationship to a new level.