Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev met Iranian hardliner President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran amid diplomatic overtures from Nur-Sultan to ease bilateral tensions and encourage an end to global nuclear stockpiles within decades.
After arriving, Toqaev reportedly pledged to declare a 14-day visa-free regime for Iranians in Kazakhstan, the largest and wealthiest of the five post-Soviet Central Asian republics.
His visit and accompanying efforts to strengthen relations come amid stalled international efforts to revive Iran’s seven-year-old sanctions relief for nuclear concession deals with world powers. .
The stopover in Iran is Toqaev’s first as president of Kazakhstan and includes a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields most religious and political power in Iran.
Raisi was quoted by the Kazakh president’s office as saying the signed agreements could “open up new opportunities” towards a goal of reaching $3 billion in mutual trade.
“We have all the potential for this, especially in the agriculture, transport-transit and oil sectors,” Raisi reportedly said. “I am convinced that the results of today’s talks will become a solid basis for close cooperation between our countries.”
Russian media quoted the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) as saying that the two sides had signed nine cooperation agreements in areas ranging from politics to transport, energy, investment, technology and to tourism.
Kazakhstan is a major oil and uranium producer and a member, along with Iran, of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which also includes Russia, India and Pakistan.
Toqaev’s visit to Tehran also follows a trip to Russia earlier this week for an annual business forum as Russian forces continue their nearly four-month-long full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, another former Soviet republic. .
In St. Petersburg, seated alongside President Vladimir Putin, Toqaev pushed back against Moscow’s narrative of the invasion, rejecting recognition of “quasi-states” like the Russian-backed eastern regions of Ukraine and controlled by separatists.
He also promised that Kazakhstan would not violate international sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
During Toqaev’s tour, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Muqtar Tleuberdi called in an article published by Russian RBC for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in the world by 2045.
Putin put Russian forces on high alert and he and other Russian officials hinted at the threat of a possible nuclear conflict as Ukraine fought back with Western support.
Tleuberdi spoke of a nuclear-free world in an article dedicated to the 2021 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) signed by Kazakhstan and 85 other states.
In the article, he suggested that all countries – including those that currently possess nuclear weapons – should rid the world of these weapons by the UN’s centenary.
Kazakhstan agreed to give up what was then the world’s fourth largest nuclear stockpile within four years of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He had inherited more than 1,000 nuclear warheads, more than 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), dozens of bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs, tons of nuclear material and environmental damage caused by years of nuclear testing. under the Soviet regime.