President Bush and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev say they are united in fighting terrorism and spreading democracy in Central Asia. Some human rights groups are criticizing President Nazarbayev's own commitment to democracy inside Kazakhstan.
Welcoming President Nazarbayev to the Oval Office, President Bush said the oil-rich nation has been a key ally in the fight against terrorism.
Mr. Bush says the United States and Kazakhstan are together in the effort to defeat extremism and support forces of moderation throughout the world. He thanked President Nazarbayev for contributing to the fight against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some human rights groups, including Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, had called on President Bush to focus on civil liberties in Kazakhstan during his talks with President Nazarbayev.
Since independence in 1991, Mr. Nazarbayev has won a series of tainted elections in a nation where opposition parties are banned or denied registration.
Perhaps mindful of the controversy surrounding this visit, the Kazakh government took out a series of newspaper advertisements this week, including a four-page supplement in The New York Times extolling Kazakhstan's relationship with the United States.
During their White House talks, President Bush said the men discussed their commitment to institutions that enable liberty to flourish.
"I have watched very carefully the development of this important country from one that was in the Soviet sphere to one that now is a free nation," said Mr. Bush. "And I appreciate your leadership, Mr. President."
Kazakhstan exports about a million barrels of oil a day, and has estimated reserves of more than 100 billion barrels. Much of the $30 million of investment in the country's oil sector has come from U.S. firms, including Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and ConocoPhillips.
Speaking through an interpreter, President Nazarbayev thanked President Bush for an economic and diplomatic partnership that he says has benefited both countries.
"Kazakhstan today is very proud that we have the highest rate of economic growth in the world, and a lot of countries learn from the experience of Kazakhstan today," he noted. "But that wouldn't be possible if [the] Taleban [had not been] defeated in Afghanistan. And that war was led by United States."
President Nazarbayev's visit also included talks with the president's father, former President George Herbert Walker Bush, at the family home in the northeast state of Maine.