Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Kazakhstan Thursday, according to Walla!, to strengthen Israel's economic ties with the Sunni Muslim-majority nation.
Barak met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the presidential palace in Astana, according to the daily. They reportedly sat for about an hour and discussed the possibility of further cooperation in regard to agriculture, health services, and industrial innovation.
Barak formed close ties with Nazarbayev while he was Israel's Prime Minister and has maintained the relationship since then. Now, he often visits Kazakhstan as a representative of the private sector, through his company, Hyperion.
Israel and Kazakhstan have been forming a closer diplomatic relationship over the past several months. Last month, Kazakhstan's Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksbekov visited Israel for the first time and met with current Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who then signed a defense pact between the two countries.
At the meeting, the Kazakh defense minister called Israel "a small country known worldwide for its capabilities."
"This is my first visit to Israel, and I hope it will serve as a mile stone for enhancing cooperation between the two countries. Israel is one of the leading countries in trading with Kazakhstan," added the minister. "The economy always strengthens cooperation and I hope that this visit will strengthen the security cooperation between the countries."
Officials reported that Kazakhstan is interested in unmanned systems, border security, command-and-control capabilities as well as satellite communications.
Israeli cooperation with Kazakhstan was expressed in the launch of an Israeli AMOS-4 satellite in the country last September. In 2011 an AMOS-5 satellite was similarly launched by Kazakhstan, indicating the close ties.