The Central Asian state of Kazakhstan is a rising power with enormous natural gas and oil reserves as well as vast quantities of uranium. Its phenomenal rise has regional as well as global implications.
Regionally, it can affect the balance of power more than any other state in the region, and being a Caspian littoral state, it can also play a positive role vis-à-vis Iran, which is also a Caspian littoral state.
This week, this fact made itself evident once more during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day official visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, with the aim of strengthening bilateral relations in various areas. The visit served this purpose not only through the signing of five new cooperation deals -- ranging from sports to setting up a joint tanker company -- but also led to two new developments that could influence two major issues of contention.