Kazakhstan resolves issues with ONGC Videsh

5 July 2009. Economic Times. ASTANA

Kazakhstan has resolved its issues with steel magnate Lakshmi N Mittal and with India’s largest oil explorer ONGC Videsh and the “situation is coming to a successful end”, a top diplomat has said, adding that the country supported India’s aspirations for a greater role in an expanded UN Security Council.

“Lakshmi Mittal now adapts himself (to our needs),” Doulat Kuanyshev, ambassador-at-large in the Kazakhstan foreign ministry, told IANS in an interview here.

In January, the Kazakh government had summoned Mittal, the CEO of world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal, following a blast that killed at least seven people at one of his mines in the central Asian country. Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Umirzak Shukeyeve told reporters that Mittal had been “summoned” to answer questions relating to the blast.

“As for ONGC, over a period there was not a good feeling on what (it thought) was a good sell (proposal). This situation is coming to a successful end,” Kuanyshev said.

Noting that India had “too many specifics to just plug in”, he added: “The role of India as an economic powerhouse cannot be ignored”.

After four years of negotiation, ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd, a joint venture of ONGC Videsh and Mittal Investments, had signed in January an agreement with Kazakhstan’s national oil company for a stake in its Satpayev oil field.

Kuanyshev also admitted that Kazakhstan had initially missed out on the economic opportunities India had offered because it felt “there should be the right timing” for this. “Over the last two decades (since independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union), we have managed to generate a very good political climate. There is no cause for any discrepancy. We support India’s quest for a greater role in the UN.

“At the same time, India supports Kazakhstan’s increased role in central Asia as a dynamic power. There is the same approach on regional issues. There has also been greater cooperation in (regional grouping) SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation),” the diplomat added.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had for the first time attended the SCO summit at the Russian industrial city of Yekaterinburg, where he delivered a firm message to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to show tangible results on prosecuting the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks if the sub-continental dialogue process was to resume.

Adil Akhmetov, secretary of the Kazakh Senate’s committee on security, defence and international relations, echoed Kuanyshev’s views on economic cooperation with India.

“India is a huge economic power. It is rapidly developing in areas like IT. There are a lot of areas to do business in,” he maintained.