Mike Pompeo tours Kazakhstan with warning over Chinese investment

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By Mark Armstrong  with AP
Mike Pompeo tours Kazakhstan with warning over Chinese investment
Copyright  AP   -   KEVIN LAMARQUE

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kazakhstan where he warned the Central Asian country to be wary of Russian and Chinese investment and influence.

He told senior officials, including the Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, that the attractiveness of such investment comes with a cost to sovereignty and may hurt, instead of help, long-term development.

"I've also talked about the Trump administration's forthcoming Central Asia strategy that puts your independence and prosperity at the core of our approach," Pompeo told a press conference. "We fully support Kazakhstan's freedom to choose to do business with whatever country, whichever country it wants. But I'm confident that the country will get the best outcome when it partners with American companies."

Pompeo also went to Belarus, making him the first secretary of state to visit the former Soviet republic for two decades.

Washington is seeking to improve ties with Belarus, whose relations with Moscow are under strain over energy.

In a meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko, Pompeo said he hoped to help provide an opportunity for Belarus to achieve the sovereignty and independence it seeks.

He said American energy producers stand ready to deliver 100 percent of the oil Belarus needs at a competitive price.

The visit ended with a trip to a technology park where at least five companies are working on contracts with the US.