Kazakh strongman meets 'advisor' Blair: official

23rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Kazakhstan's strongman President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday met Tony Blair in Astana, after the former British prime minister was named an advisor to the Central Asian state.

"Questions on developing a full programme for the modernisation of Kazakhstan were discussed at the meeting," the presidency said in a statement, adding that the meeting took place in the president's Akorda palace.

It said the pair also discussed international issues, including the situation in the European Union and the Middle East.

Kazakhstan confirmed last month it had hired Blair as a consultant to attract new investment and help modernise the Central Asian state, on a contract reportedly worth millions of dollars.

The country has been a favourite of the foreign investment community under Nazarbayev but remains an authoritarian regime with effective one-party rule and an all-powerful presidency.

Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan since even before the Soviet Union's collapse and was re-elected in April for a third decade in power with over 95 percent of the vote in an election criticised by international obsevers.

© 2011 AFP

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