Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev said after a visit to Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that a new transportation route connecting China with European markets bypassing Russia is important for the two nations.
Toqaev said on May 11 that his visit opened opportunities "for further strengthening cooperation in political, trade, economic, investment, cultural, military, and other areas." The most important thing for the two states "is using the potential of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR)," he added, a day after the visit.
The TITR, known as the Middle Corridor, is an international development linking China's rail freight transport networks with the European Union, bypassing Russia.
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Launched in 2017, the project links Caspian Sea and Black Sea ferry terminals with rail systems in China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Poland.
Last month, amid Moscow's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, China opened another railway route to Europe via Kazakhstan, also bypassing Russia.
The situation in Ukraine was also a focus during the talks.
"Our thoughts on the peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine on the basis of sovereignty and territorial integrity coincide," Erdogan said.
Kazakhstan, known as a close ally of Russia, has not officially condemned Moscow's aggression against Kyiv but said it respects Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Also, top officials of the Central Asian nation have said their country will not assist Russia to evade sanctions imposed on it over the war in Ukraine.
The two presidents said a joint statement on "expanding a strategic partnership" between the two Turkic nations and 14 other bilateral agreements were signed during Toqaev's visit.
The Kazakh Defense Ministry said on May 11 that an agreement on military cooperation was among those signed.
Erdogan said that Kazakhstan was "the historic land of all Turks, while Turkey is the second home for Kazakhstan's citizens."
"We are ready to bear responsibility for the stability, peace, and security of our brothers in Kazakhstan," Erdogan said.
Turkey was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan's independence following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 and the first foreign country to open an embassy in Kazakhstan in 1992.