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Public Papers - 1992 - May

Remarks at the Departure Ceremony for President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan

1992-05-19

Well, Mr. President, distinguished members of the Kazakhstan delegation, it's been a great pleasure to welcome you to the White House on this historic occasion, the first-ever visit of the head of state of an independent Kazakhstan. I have never been to your country, but Secretary Baker has. And he has spoken to me about the tremendous potential of a nation rich in resources, a nation stretching from the steppes of Russia to the Tien Shan in the south, 4 times the size of Texas.

Mr. President, our meeting today marks the beginning of a new relationship, a relationship made possible by the end of the long era of East-West conflict that we called the cold war. With the passing of that bitter conflict, we enter into a new era of hope for a more democratic and free order in Eastern Europe and in Central Asia.

Under your leadership, sir, Kazakhstan is pursuing a course true to these aims. Our meetings today confirm the many interests that we share. The U.S. supports your independence. We believe its security, Kazakhstan's security, is important for stability in Europe and in Asia. We welcome President Nazarbayev's commitment that Kazakhstan will join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapons state and that it will adhere to the START Treaty. We'll continue to work toward a signing of the new START protocol by Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Byelarus, Russia, and the United States in the very near future.

I want to take this occasion to underline our pledge to maintain regular, high-level communication with the Kazakh Government on political and security issues, and that means exploring the possibility of cooperative programs in nuclear nonproliferation and beginning contacts between the armed forces of our two nations.

Beyond our common security interest, the U.S. is committed to helping Kazakhstan make the transition from the old Socialist command economy to the free market. We continue to aim at a tax treaty between our nations. Today we took very positive steps toward increased trade with the signing of agreements on trade, bilateral investment, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

The surest way, though, to increase trade remains for American firms to have the opportunity to compete fairly in Kazakhstan. I am pleased that the Kazakh Government has this week signed a landmark agreement with Chevron Corporation to open the Tengiz oil fields.

In order to expand trade, I've asked for our able Secretary of Commerce, Barbara Franklin, to form a business development committee to work with your Government to increase contacts between private Kazakh and American firms. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, including much needed food and medical aid. The U.S. also stands ready with technical assistance on a range of issues, from food distribution to speeding the conversion of defense sector industry to civilian economy.

But Government assistance is just one part of an outpouring of American support. As President, I am pleased to see the active efforts on behalf of private citizens to provide aid to your new nation, volunteer organizations like Project Hope and Mercy Corps, to the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, which has sent 40,000 pounds of food, medical supplies, and clothing to its Kazakh sister city.

Like all of the former republics of the Soviet empire, Kazakhstan faces challenges that go beyond the need to build a strong, competitive economy. After more than 70 years of Communist rule, Kazakhstan and its Commonwealth neighbors are engaged in the difficult task of nation-building. At issue are the first questions of government and society: respect for the rule of law; the role of political parties, of free press and independent media; the freedom of association; and the freedom of the individual.

On behalf of all Americans, I pledge the support of the United States of America as Kazakhstan seeks a future that is peaceful, prosperous, and free.

Once again, Mr. President, it has been a special privilege to welcome you to Washington, to welcome you to the White House. And may God bless your great country.

Note: The President spoke at 1:17 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The remarks followed a ceremony in which President Bush and President Nazarbayev signed the Agreement on Trade Relations Between the United States and Kazakhstan, the Bilateral Investment Treaty Between the United States and Kazakhstan, and the United States-Kazakhstan Overseas Private Investment Corporation Agreement.

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