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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Khristenko Demands Moscow's Inclusion in Central Asian Plans

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Russia fired the latest salvo in an escalating contest with the United States for influence in Central Asia, saying it must be involved in tapping the region's vast natural resource wealth.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said Wednesday that Russia must participate in Central Asian oil, gas and other infrastructure projects.

"From our point of view they cannot be decided without the participation of Russia," Khristenko said.

"Therefore it is very important for us to be here, very important to understand the views and the moods," he told reporters at a World Economic Forum summit.

Russia continues to hold control over virtually all of Central Asia's natural gas deliveries, and the first new oil-exporting outlet from the region is set to run across southern Russia from Kazakhstan's expansive Tengiz oil field.

Khristenko said major players were bound to clash when the stakes were high.

"Naturally, there are differing interests among serious players in the global economy like the U.S., Russia and Europe. They arise in the Central Asia region as well as elsewhere."

He met with Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev to discuss ways of boosting cooperation in the energy sector, including the possible entrance of Russia's giant gas monopoly Gazprom into the Kazakh market.