Kazakh FM discusses religious freedom with counterparts in Washington, D.C.

ASTANA – At the invitation of the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Abdrakhmanov attended July 25-26 the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s press service reports.

In his opening speech, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated ensuring religious freedom is one of the core priorities of President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as an essential focus area of U.S. state policy. In this regard, he noted, the United States intends to continue rendering assistance and support to the international community for protecting the rights of religious associations, minorities and faiths all over the world.

Secretary of State Pompeo said in order to implement these goals, the U.S. plans to launch initiatives to defend the rights and freedoms of religious groups. The conference supported the U.S. proposal to adopt the Potomac Declaration and the Potomac Plan of Action related to religious freedom.

In his statement, Abdrakhmanov confirmed Kazakhstan’s unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom of religion and Kazakhstan’s willingness to support international efforts in this area. The foreign minister highlighted the fact that these initiatives were in line with the idea of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on Islamic rapprochement proposed during the Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2016, as well as the decade of rapprochement of cultures for 2012-2022 supported by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

The minister said Kazakhstan believes the promotion of religious freedom also contributes to international stability and security. Central Asia, which seeks to serve as a regional model of peace, security, stability and sustainable development, is a good example of this.

The minister briefed conference participants about the upcoming sixth triennial Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions to be held in Kazakhstan in October. It is a platform initiated by President Nazarbayev to promote dialogue between religions, cultures and civilisations.

Foreign ministers from more than 80 countries, as well as more than 170 civil society representatives and 100 religious leaders from around the globe attended the event in the U.S. capital.

Abdrakhmanov also exchanged views with Pompeo, Senior Advisor to the U.S. President Jared Kushner and held talks with the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, with whom he discussed Kazakh-American relations.

The foreign minister also visited the Atlantic Council, one of the leading think tanks, where he held a briefing on the main priorities of Kazakhstan’s development and shared views on international issues.

Prior to the conference, Abdrakhmanov met July 25 with the U.S. Department of State leadership, including First Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

The diplomats focused on the dynamic growth of Kazakh-American relations, as well as on the implementation of the agreements reached during the official visit of President Nazarbayev to Washington, D.C. in January 2018. The sides emphasised the strengthening of political, trade and economic partnership between Kazakhstan and the United States.

Abdrakhmanov also met with the leaders of leading American companies and briefed them on Kazakhstan’s increasingly favourable business environment. He stressed that the implementation of the high-level agreements between the leaders of Kazakhstan and the United States boosted business activities as well as increased the flow of U.S. investments into the Kazakh economy.

The minister noted that, given Kazakhstan’s economic diversification policy, the country is interested in attracting American experience and capital for the implementation of big high-tech projects, including in the processing and manufacturing industries, transport infrastructure development, agriculture, communications and IT.

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