M43

May 1995

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today announced the appointment of Mr Douglas Townsend as the first resident Australian Ambassador to Kazakhstan, the largest of the newly independent states of Central Asia. The new Australian Embassy in the capital, Almaty, opens on 24 May 1995.

Senator Evans said Kazakhstan was attracting considerable international commercial interest because of its large recoverable deposits of oil, gas, coal, gold and other minerals. He said that Australia's expertise in mineral extraction, telecommunications and agriculture in harsh and isolated conditions was particularly suited to Kazakhstan's development needs. There was considerable potential for our commercial relations with Kazakhstan to grow in these and other sectors. A number of Australian mining companies are examining exploration and investment opportunities in Kazakhstan. Telstra has built international telecommunications facilities near Almaty, and several Australian private and public sector organisations are involved in projects which are supported by international financial institutions.

Since 1992, Mr Townsend has been Austrade Investment Commissioner, Central and Northern Europe, based in Frankfurt. He was Ambassador to Hungary from 1988 to 1992, and Ambassador to Switzerland, with non-resident accreditations to Senegal and Cóte d'Ivoire, from 1985 to 1988. In the period 1979 to 1985, as Assistant Secretary for nuclear safeguards and nuclear policy branches in the then Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra, Mr Townsend was closely involved with disarmament policy and with Australian resources companies. His other overseas appointments have included Vienna, Saigon, Dublin and Karachi.

The new embassy will offer on-the-spot support to Australian commercial activity in Kazakhstan, as well as facilitating visa and consular services. It will temporarily be located at the Rachat Palace Hotel, Zhandosova Street/Satpajeva Avenue 17, Almaty, 48004 Kazakhstan (telephone 7 327 5811600).

For further information, please contact:

Ian Wille OR Alison Lloyd

Tel: (06) 261 2902, Tel: (06) 261 2162, Fax: (06) 261 2990

CANBERRA