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Roosevelt Room

12:25 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  And I’m pleased to welcome President Nazarbayev who has done a tremendous job in Kazakhstan.  And having you at the White House is an honor.  Mr. President, thank you for visiting with us, and we have very important discussions going on.

For more than a quarter century, the United States has seen the strong, sovereign, and independent nation of Kazakhstan as a valued friend and a strategic partner in Central Asia.  And we’re honored, and we are truly honored to be the first country to recognize Kazakhstani independence on Christmas Day 1991.  That’s a long time ago, but not that long.  You’ve made incredible strides.

Since that time, the United States and Kazakhstan have worked together to advance peace and security in the region and far beyond the region.

Together, we dismantled Kazakhstan’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and ensured a safer and healthier future for the children of Kazakhstan and for the world at large.  We’ve pursued opportunities to increase investment in Kazakhstan and the energy sector in particular.

And today, our strategic partnership with Kazakhstan has advanced my South Asia strategy, which is working, and working far more rapidly than anybody would understand, and providing crucial support for our forces in Afghanistan and denying safe haven for terrorists.

This cooperation has grown even stronger this month during Kazakhstan’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council.  And I will say, that’s a great honor.

Today, the President and I have a series of discussions on how our relationship can further the safety, prosperity, and wellbeing of our people.  Kazakhstan is a valued partner in our efforts to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.  Together, we are determined to prevent the North Korean regime from threatening the world with nuclear devastation.

I also want to thank the President for his full support for our South Asia strategy, including our efforts in Afghanistan.  I greatly appreciate the President’s personal assurances that Kazakhstan will continue to provide critical logistical support and access for our troops fighting ISIS and the Taliban, where we have made tremendous strides.

We also appreciate Kazakhstan’s work to train and educate Afghan civilian specialists, and I’m grateful for the President’s pledge of additional support to bolster Afghan security.  The United States seeks partners who are strong, prosperous, respectful of their neighbors, and in control of their own destinies.

I’m pleased that the President has shared his plan for Kazakhstan to become a top 30 global economy by 2015, and he’s on his way — very rapidly.  He’s also working to improve Kazakhstan’s business environment, which will create new opportunities for American companies who are over there, and lots of jobs are being provided to both countries.

American businesses are currently among the largest investors in Kazakhstan.  And tonight, the President will attend a roundtable with American business executives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to further advance our commercial ties.

We also agree that fair and reciprocal — such an important word, “reciprocal” — trade benefits both of our countries.

I greatly appreciate Kazakhstan’s participation in our Central Asia Trade Forum and in our Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.  The President and I are working together to bring high-quality U.S. products and services to the Kazakhstani people — so important.  And it’s really happening, and it’s happening rapidly all across a range of industries, including commercial aircraft, railways, medical services, technology, and energy.

Working in common cause, we can advance greater opportunity for citizens in both of our countries.  Mr. President, thank you for visiting the White House today.  Our nations have a long history of cooperation to promote a safer, healthier, more prosperous, and brighter tomorrow.  I look forward to seeing the great advances of the Kazakhstani people under your incredible leadership.  And that’s what it is, it’s incredible leadership.

We want a strong, sovereign, and thriving future for Kazakhstan and for the peace-loving nations of the world — all of them.  Thank you very much.  I very much appreciate it.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV:  (As interpreted.)  Distinguished Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: First of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation to visit your country.  I would like also to express my appreciation for warm hospitality.

And our phone conversation was followed by our meeting in Riyadh, Saudi.  And today’s visit, this is all done in the atmosphere of friendship and trust, and I appreciate that.

And I’m confident that as a result of my visit, the relations between our two countries would be elevated to the level of the enlarged strategic partnership that would work to the benefit of both nations.

And today, we will adopt a political statement that says about this new level of relations, and that would signal the new era of the relations between Kazakhstan and United States, between Astana and Washington.

And indeed, the United States was the first country to recognize our independence.  And since then, your country has supported Kazakhstan, which helped build and strengthen our nation and make it what it is today, as a fair player of the international community.

And today, I’m representing Kazakhstan, the country that used to be a part of Soviet Union, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, this was not the most well-to-do former republic.  But I’m also here representing Central Asia, in the format of five Central Asian countries.

And recently, Central Asia became into the focus of big global players, because we are bordering Russia on one side; on the other side, we have China; to the south, we have an Islamic world.  But we want also the United States to be present there in the format of Central Asia countries plus one — that’s means the United States.  And we would appreciate this new format of collaboration.

From the very first days after 9/11, Kazakhstan very steadfastly supported the fight of the United States against terrorism, and now we continue to collaborate closely in Afghanistan with your country.

While the American troops are in Afghanistan, I think it’s the mission of the whole world to make sure that Afghanistan is stabilized, and it’s also a mission for us, as a neighboring country of Afghanistan, to see that peace prevails in Afghanistan.

Mr. President, so far, we provided some humanitarian and technical support to Afghanistan worth 75 million U.S dollars.  But on top of that, Kazakhstan government spent 50 million U.S. dollars training Afghanis in Kazakhstan to some civilian professions that they cannot get trained in Afghanistan.

I think that later on, we will have an opportunity to discuss deeper the issue of Afghanistan.

We spoke about other international issues, and we spoke about the North Korean issue.  And you probably know that Kazakhstan was a country that possessed the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but then we voluntarily decided to give up nuclear weapons, and we also shut down the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, the largest nuclear test site in the world.  And I think Kazakhstan has the moral right to talk to the nations that are seeking nuclear weapons.  And this is the way we’re talking to Iran, and this is the way we will be talking to North Korea.

I think the issue of North Korea can be solved by joining efforts of United States, China, and Russia.  And Kazakhstan, being a neighbor of Russia physically, of course, is following very closely the dynamics between the U.S. and Russian relations, which suddenly plunged into the abyss.

And in bilateral relations, I think economic relations play a key role.  And in Kazakhstan, we have major American companies operating for many years.  We have Chevron, ExxonMobil.  We have General Electric, Halliburton.  And all these companies invested about 50 billion U.S. dollars into Kazakhstani economy so far.  And also, that trade created additional 5,000 jobs in United States.

And in the afternoon, we’ll have a roundtable where we will discuss the technical modernization of Kazakhstani economy, the new opportunities.  And during that roundtable, we’ll sign 20 commercial contracts that would sum up to 7.5 billion U.S. dollars.  And that’s a very strong sign of how vivid and robust our relations are.

And the contracts would be about purchasing additional Boeing planes, passenger planes; about assembling 900 new General Electric locomotives in Kazakhstan; and also some contracts on collaboration in agriculture sector.

And Kazakhstan declared a visa-free regime for American citizens visiting our country, and we hope and expect that there would be a reciprocity in American — (translation interrupted).  And we are working on opening a direct flight between our countries.

Mr. President, allow me to conclude by congratulating you with a great economic success that your country is witnessing during your office.  You carried out an outstanding taxation reform.  And because I did something similar in my country five years ago, I fully support what you do there.  (Laughter.)  Our corporate tax is 20 percent; income tax is 10 percent for everyone.

So this is the first anniversary of you in the office of the President.  Congratulations on that.  And, by the way, congratulations on the birth of your ninth grandchild.  But I’m a little bit ahead of you because last year I had a tenth grandchild in my family.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That’s fantastic.  Thank you very much.  Thank you everybody.


12:48 P.M. EST