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Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed his long-serving ambassador to the U.S. as foreign minister to help the country forge stronger economic ties with the West.

Yerlan Idrisov, 53, was reappointed to the post he held between 1999 and 2002 before embarking on five-year stints as ambassador to Britain and the U.S.

Nazarbayev is a supporter of President Vladimir Putin's plans for an Eurasian Union. But Friday's appointment helps Nazarbayev to allay any concerns that Kazakhstan might be turning its back on the West, analysts said.

(Reuters)

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