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President Xi Jinping and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev watch as six Kazakh Air Force fighter jets fly overhead, trailing red and yellow smoke to symbolize the Chinese flag, during a welcoming ceremony on Wednesday in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. WANG JIANHUA/YIN BOGU/XINHUA

President Xi Jinping and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pledged on Wednesday to bolster bilateral cooperation across various sectors, setting out targets to double bilateral trade and expand partnerships in energy, connectivity, key minerals and the digital economy.

Xi held high-level talks at Akorda, the presidential palace in Astana, with Tokayev, in a state visit marking the latest chapter in the ever-strengthening relationship between the two neighboring nations.

Upon Xi's arrival at the presidential residence, he was warmly welcomed by Tokayev, as six Kazakh Air Force fighter jets flew overhead, trailing red and yellow smoke in a spectacular display to symbolize the Chinese flag.

The welcoming ceremony featured a grand display of military precision, with honor guards standing at attention and the national anthems of both nations played by a military band.

"Our two sides have set a new goal of doubling bilateral trade as soon as possible, agreeing to continuously deepen cooperation in traditional areas such as economic and trade investment, capacity, connectivity, and energy," Xi said when jointly meeting the media with Tokayev.

"We will also work together to foster new growth points in key areas such as critical minerals, new energy, technological innovation, aerospace and the digital economy, aiming to enhance and upgrade practical cooperation between the two nations continuously."

China and Kazakhstan have witnessed flourishing trade and economic cooperation in recent years. Bilateral trade rose 32 percent year-on-year to $41 billion in 2023, making China the largest trading partner of the Central Asian country.

China has also been the largest source of foreign investment for Kazakhstan over the past 15 years, during which the total investment volume reached $25 billion, with over 4,700 Chinese businesses now operating in the Central Asian country, according to Kazakh authorities.

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