efe-epaMoscow

The new Kazakh president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, told Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that he would do "everything possible" to further improve the "exemplary" relations between Kazakhstan and Russia.

"I will do everything I can to reinforce the potential that exists between our nations," Tokayev told his Russian counterpart in Moscow.

Tokayev, who took over Kazakhstan's leadership last month after the Central Asian country's first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, suddenly resigned after nearly 30 years in power, pledged to continue the course set by his predecessor.

"Our relations are on the rise, and as Nursultan Nazarbayev likes to say, they are exemplary. My main task will be to guarantee the continuity of that strategy," he said.

Tokayev said the fact that he made his first state visit to Russia was proof of the "special" nature of the ties the two countries forged during the Nazarbayev government.

Cooperation would continue in several areas, he said in reference to the final declaration signed by both presidents at the end of their meeting in Moscow.

The leaders discussed in particular bilateral cooperation in sectors such as military technology, energy, trade, cultural and tourism, said Tokayev.

He said the two sides discussed the creation of maintenance centers for military equipment in Kazakh territory.

In an interview given to the Russian newspaper "Kommersant" on the eve of his visit to Moscow, Tokayev said that close cooperation with Russia would not prevent his country from continuing to develop relations with other States when that policy is dictated by "the potential, geographical situation and strategic interests" of the Central Asian nation.

Meanwhile, Putin expressed Russia's willingness to build a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan.

"We want to move on to new forms of cooperation, first of all, I am talking about the construction of an atomic power station in Kazakhstan with the use of Russian technologies," he said.

He also expressed his conviction that Tokayev's visit to Moscow would help strengthen the relations of partners that exist between both countries.

Nazarbayev, who had led the second-largest post-Soviet economy for almost 30 years, announced his decision to retire on March 19, opening a period of transition in the oil- and minerals-rich country, the world's ninth-largest in area.

Tokayev, who had been serving as Senate speaker, assumed the presidency when Nazarbayev resigned.

General elections are slated for April 2020, when Nazarbayev's mandate was due to end.

But Nazarbayev, whose Multi-Vector diplomatic policy was characterized by an attempt to maintain good relations with the West, Russia and China, did not abandon power altogether, as he continues to serve as head of the country's Security Council and leader of the ruling Nur Otan Democratic People's Party.

aj/cae/jrh-hv