Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev yesterday appointed a reputed China specialist, Muradbek Imanaliev, to the post of foreign minister. Imanaliev had served in that post in 1991-93, was ambassador to China in 1993-96, and headed the presidential administration’s international relations department for the past year. Akaev told a Bishkek briefing yesterday that, according to projections, "Kyrgyzstan’s prosperity will in many ways depend on the development of its relations with China." He expressed hope that his visit to China later this year will produce a "breakthrough in economic cooperation," particularly with respect to transport and hydropower generation — the sector with the strongest export potential for Kyrgyzstan.
In a parallel statement yesterday, Akaev expressed serious disappointment with the functioning of the CIS customs union comprised of Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The year 1997 "has become the year in which the agreements on the customs union are being abandoned," Akaev commented. Four quadripartite summit meetings were tentatively scheduled this year alone to discuss remedial measures, but all four were eventually canceled or postponed indefinitely.
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