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Kazakh leader to sign pacts forging closer ties with U.S.

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Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Tuesday his Central Asian nation wanted to develop closer ties with the United States, build a strong market economy and play a role in international affairs.

As part of that strategy, he said that during his stay in Washington he would sign 14 agreements with President Clinton and other U.S. officials covering security, defense, trade and oil and gas exploration.Kazakhstan is looking for U.S assistance in building a highly efficient military force after dismantling of its former Soviet nuclear missiles.

Nazarbayev was seeing Clinton later Tuesday. He met Monday with Vice President Al Gore, Defense Secretary William Cohen and Energy Secretary Federico Pena

Kazakhstan, one third the size of the United States, may have half of central Asia's estimated 100 billion barrels of oil. The United States is anxious to promote development of these resources to lessen dependence on the Middle East.

Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan, which became independent in 1991, has developed a 30-year strategic plan "to integrate itself into the world economy and take its place in the geopolitical arena."

Nazarbayev, whose nation hosted Hillary Rodham Clinton last week, is the third head of state from the region to meet Clinton in the past four months after Georgian President Edouard She-vard-nad-ze and Azerbaijani President Gaidar Aleyev.

The United States is trying to encourage development of democratic institutions in the former Soviet republics and tie their economies to the West without upsetting Russia.

Clinton sent a memo to the secretaries of state and energy on Monday, approving a cooperative agreement with Kazakhstan to improve the safety of its nuclear reactors and find peaceful, civilian uses for its existing infrastructure.