ASTANA, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana Saturday for talks on ways to enhance the development of the strategic partnership between China and Kazakhstan.
Hu and Nazarbayev are expected to discuss how to further advance China-Kazakhstan relations and enhance pragmatic cooperation. They will also exchange views on international and regional issues of common concern, said Chinese diplomats.
Hu flew into Astana on Friday from Uzbek capital Tashkent, where he paid a state visit and attended a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
China and Kazakhstan have witnessed sustained, rapid and healthy progress in bilateral ties since they established diplomatic relations 18 years ago.
The establishment of a strategic partnership between the two countries in 2005 marked the beginning of a new phase in their bilateral ties.
In recent years, China and Kazakhstan have maintained frequent exchanges of high-level visits, continually deepened mutual trust and conducted fruitful pragmatic cooperation in such fields as economy, trade, energy, security and culture.
China is now Kazakhstan's second largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at 9.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, according to official figures from Kazakhstan.
Official figures show that in the first three months of this year, two-way trade stood at 2.5 billion dollars, a 22-percent increase over the corresponding period of 2009.
Hu's current visit to Kazakhstan is his second in six months. Last December, he visited Kazakhstan, and attended the completion ceremony of the Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline, together with President Nazarbayev in Astana.
"President Hu's visit is conducive to maintaining the good momentum of China-Kazakhstan high-level exchanges, strengthening political mutual trust, boosting pragmatic cooperation and advancing their strategic partnership," said Cheng Guoping, assistant foreign minister of China, on June 4 at a press conference.