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Rice: US Not Trying to Undermine Russia in Kazakhstan


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says U.S. efforts to build closer ties with Kazakhstan are not meant to undermine Russia's influence in Central Asia.

Addressing reporters Sunday in the former Soviet republic, Rice said there is not a contest between Moscow and Washington for the oil-rich nation's friendship.

Also at the news conference, Kazakh Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin said his country has good relations with both Russia and the United States.

Rice met with Tazhin for talks on security and energy cooperation. She is also due to meet with President Nursultan Nazarbayev to discuss security, political and economic reforms in the country.

President Nazarbayev has maintained close links to Moscow, while also allowing major U.S. corporations a substantial role in Kazakhstan's burgeoning oil and gas industry.

Secretary Rice's arrival in Kazakhstan follows her trip to India where she had been set to sign a landmark nuclear trade agreement.

However, the signing of the pact was delayed. Rice told reporters administrative - not substantive - details had to be resolved before the pact ending a 34-year ban on civilian nuclear trade with India can be signed.

U.S. lawmakers have already approved the agreement. Rice called the pact a "done deal," saying U.S. President George Bush would sign the agreement into law very soon.

The deal allows Washington to share civilian nuclear technology and materials with New Delhi if India opens some nuclear facilities to inspection.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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