External News in Brief

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov spoke on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Feb. 19 to discuss bilateral relations, the upcoming talks over Iran’s nuclear programme in Almaty as well as the continued cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan.

A Russian space official said lease agreements for some launch facilities in Kazakhstan could be suspended, opening the way for their joint administration by the two countries. Roscosmos deputy head Sergei Savelyev told the Ivzestia newspaper in an interview, published on Feb. 16 that the first facility to come under review would be the pad used to launch satellites on Zenit rocket boosters. Savelyev said Kazakhstan had expressed interest in training its own space engineers. Russia currently pays Kazakhstan $115 million annually to use the Soviet-built cosmodrome under a deal that stretches until 2050.

Kazakhstan will provide the best possible conditions for all media outlets which intend to cover the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. Press centres will be opened and conferences will be organized at the Intercontinental Hotel in Almaty. During the negotiations official representatives will hold briefings for media outlets periodically. Over 150 media representatives have been accredited to cover negotiations of “Group of Six” and Iran.

The Kazakhstan film “Harmony Lessons” received the Silver Bear award for photography at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. Cameraman Aziz Zhambakiev thanked the team that worked on the film, including the director of the movie Emir Baigazin, as well as especially Kazakhfilm chief Ermek Amanshaev.

Kazakh delegation discussed cooperation with Japanese companies in energy sphere within the visit to Japan of delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Industry and New Technologies Minister, Aset Issekeshev. The Minister met with representatives of the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC).

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will pay an official visit to Kazakhstan, starting on March 1. “The next year is the Year of Kazakhstan in France. I can assure you that there are big cultural and economic projects ahead for France and Kazakhstan,” Jean-Charles Berthonnet, French Ambassador to Kazakhstan, said. “I believe the forthcoming visit of Mr. Fabius is a good impetus for further development and strengthening of the bilateral relationship.”

The aviation authorities of Kazakhstan and Thailand have agreed to expand flights and increase their frequency, the Transport and Communications Ministry announced on Feb. 18. Previously, regular flights took place twice a week only on the Almaty-Bangkok route. Now, Kazakh airlines will be able to make regular flights from any city in their own country to Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Utapao. Thai airlines will be able to make regular flights from anywhere in their country to Astana, Almaty, Karaganda and Shymkent. The two countries also agreed to increase the number of regular flights up to 14 per week between Almaty and Bangkok, up to seven flights per week between Astana and Bangkok and up to three flights per week on all other routes.

On Feb. 15, people in Russia’s region of Chelyabinsk, Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan and in the northern Kazakhstan watched the explosion of a large meteoroid, shattering thousands of windows across the region. In the Chelyabinsk area, more than 500 were injured. Scientists said it may have been a fragment of a disintegrating asteroid 45 metres in diametre that originally weighed 130 tons.

Andrey Gundarev of Almaty, who climbed his first volcano in February 2012, has picked the Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, the highest North American volcano at 5,636 meters (18,490 feet) as his next goal.