WASHINGTON – Organizers of the 2017 Universal Exposition in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, are anxious to add Latin American nations to the already extensive list of countries that plan to take part, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Rapil Zhoshybayev said on Friday.
“Forty-five countries have confirmed their official participation,” Zhoshybayev told EFE during an official visit to Washington to promote the event.
“We have invited (the U.S.) to participate. They have already taken part in other Expos. They expressed great support to us for the organization of the event,” he said after meetings with senior State and Energy department officials and corporate executives.
“There are certain procedures that they need to resolve, with the aim of deciding which companies will go there, before making an official announcement about their participation,” Zhoshybayev said.
Kazakhstan hopes to have more than 100 countries and at least 10 international organizations represented in Astana Expo 2017.
While in Washington, Zhoshybayev signed up the World Bank, which became “the fifth international organization to confirm its participation,” joining a group that includes the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.”
Among the nations that have confirmed they will take part in Expo 2017 are Russia, China, Japan, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland.
Spain has offered “oral confirmation” and Kazakhstan expects to receive “official” confirmation, Zhoshybayev said.
Cuba has already committed to the event, according to organizers, and Zhoshybayev told EFE he is planning a tour of Latin America in the near future to promote the Expo.
“Once the visit to the U.S. is over (on Sept. 11), we will evaluate the logistics for my visit to Latin America. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are the next countries I am going to visit,” he told EFE at the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington.
Zhoshybayev pointed out that the theme of Expo 2017, “the energy of the future,” is something “everybody is thinking about,” including Kazakhstan, a nation with significant reserves of oil, natural gas and uranium.
“Many countries that still use traditional fuels are very attentive” to new developments in the energy sector, the deputy foreign minister said.
“It would be interesting for the Latin American countries to talk to their partners and other countries at our Expo to see what novelties there might be in the energy of the future,” he said.
Organizers expect some 5 million visitors at Astana Expo 2017, as many as 20 percent of them foreigners, Zhoshybayev said, adding that because Kazakhstan is landlocked, most of those foreign visitors will arrive by air.
Kazakhstan, a territory larger than Western Europe, is upgrading its transportation infrastructure ahead of 2017, including the renovation of Astana’s international airport.
“There are certain limitations on flights, but we are working to expand them,” the diplomat said, mentioning an effort now under way to establish direct flights between New York and Astana.
After his stop in Washington, Zhoshybayev plans to travel to New York and San Francisco to promote the Astana Expo, set for June-September 2017.