Kazakhstan's new ambassador to Korea, Nurgali Arystanov, hopes to boost the C5+Korea, a diplomatic channel that engages Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan governments with Korea.
Speaking to The Korea Herald, Arystanov outlined his vision to elevate C5+Korea and touched on past success stories.
Arystanov hopes to realize bilateral goals through existing mechanisms such as the intergovernmental commission, regular bilateral visits, business forums and roundtable discussions.
C5+Korea was launched in 2007 and has had its own active secretariat since 2017, according to the Kazakh Embassy in Seoul.
The platform’s annual meeting is held at the ministerial level, serving as a powerful impetus for multilateral cooperation, said Arystanov
According to Arystanov, C5+K platform has the potential to align Central Asia and Korea on priorities such as political consultations, commercial and investment engagements, energy, mineral resources, connectivity and smart water management systems.
"Now is the time to further elevate the level of engagement within C5+K," Arystanov said.
"C5+K will make a breakthrough in the years ahead."
Meanwhile, discussing Kazakh-Korea bilateral cooperation, the ambassador highlighted Kazakh-Korea bilateral trade that reached $6.5 billion in 2022.
"Korea is the sixth-largest foreign investor with $8.9 billion of foreign direct investment now," noted Arystanov, citing Korean statistics and inviting more investment from Korea in Kazakh.
He suggested that Korea capitalize on recent initiatives led by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, through which Kazakhstan is strengthening the rule of law and seeking to create stable investment climates and favorable business environments in the region.
Arystanov praised Kazakhstan's efforts to improve its investment climate, simplified tax regime, internationally aligned legislation and investment preferences.
According to Arystanov, Kazakhstan has rich natural resources and strategic mineral reserves, such as uranium and rare earth minerals with untapped potential in agriculture cooperation, particularly in Kazakhstan's role as a major wheat producer.
Reports list Kazakhstan as the world's No. 1 in terms of developed reserves of zinc, tungsten and barytes, No. 2 in copper and fluorite reserves, No. 3 in manganese reserves, and No. 4 in molybdenum reserves.
The country also ranks in the top 10 in the world in terms of gold reserves.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Kazakhstan produced 43 percent of the world's supply of uranium, the largest share.
"We seek more investments from Korea," said Arystanov, pointing to Kazakhstan's location at the crossroads of Asia and Europe and its emergence as a transit hub for international trade in Eurasia.
"Expanding Kazakh-Korean cooperation could lead to better understanding among neighbors and positively impact the political environment," he added, emphasizing the role of economic engagements as confidence-building measures.
"Kazakhstan and Korea's shared membership in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) signifies Kazakhstan and Korea's interest in advancing measures that promote trust and a favorable political environment in the region," said Arystanov.
CICA is an intergovernmental forum for maintaining peace, security and stability in Asia based on consensus. It has 28 member states and nine observer states, stretching from the Pacific to the Mediterranean and from the Urals to the Indian Ocean, covering a vast geographical area.
In an interview with The Korea Herald, the Secretariat of CICA affirmed its commitment in 2022 to cooperate with Korea in energy security and information technology.
Concluding the interview, the ambassador acknowledged the role of think tanks and media outlets in enhancing bilateral awareness, applauding research-based proposals and creative exchanges between individuals and the media.