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Better late than never as David Cameron arrives in Kazakhstan

BY DAVID HUGHES IN ATYRAU

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has laughed off David Cameron's late, if historic arrival in his country.

Mr Cameron, who was more than an hour late after delays in his flight from Pakistan, became the first serving Prime Minister to set foot in the country.

Speaking at the opening of the giant Bolashak oil production plant Mr Cameron said: "As I was delayed in my flight from Pakistan I landed and I said I was sorry to the President for being an hour late.

"He said as he had waited 20 years for the visit of a serving British Prime Minister he was quite prepared to allow me that small delay."

The Bolashak plant, in which Shell has a major stake, will help enable the exploitation of the estimated 35 billion barrels in the vast off-shore Kashagan oil field.

The Prime Minister's visit has been controversial because of concerns over Kazakhstan's human rights record.

Mr Cameron has insisted the issue would be on the table during talks with the President.

But at the opening event he lavished praise on the achievements of Kazakhstan under President Nazarbayev, who has led the country since the Soviet era.

Mr Cameron praised Kazakhstan for giving up nuclear weapons, diversifying the economy and raising living standards.

He added: "We want to be your partner of choice in all these areas."

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