President of Kazakhstan Offers to Mediate in Iraqi Crisis

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 ( John Paul II received in audience President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Feb. 06, accompanied by his wife and entourage.

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Nazarbayev, re-elected in 1991 after a first mandate, has the difficult task of leading Kazakhstan on the path of democratic reforms in the post-Communist era, reports Vatican Radio.

Under the supervision of the U.N., the president of Kazakhstan is dismantling the nuclear arsenal inherited from the Cold War, a total of some 1,100 missiles.

For this reason, Nursultan Nazarbayev offered his country’s possible mediation in the Iraqi crisis, Vatican Radio reported, noting that Kazakhstan has eliminated more nuclear weapons than Iraq could possibly have.

This was the fourth meeting between the Pope and the president of the former Soviet republic, and the first since John Paul II’s visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in Sept. 2001.

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