Cameron promotes business ties on first visit by British leader to energy-rich Kazakhstan

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has promoted business ties with energy-rich Kazakhstan during meetings with the Central Asian country's president that were overshadowed by concerns about human rights.

British businesses sealed deals worth 700 million pounds (nearly $1 billion) during Monday's visit, the first by a British leader, Britain's Press Association news agency reported.

Human rights groups criticized the trip, saying President Nursultan Nazarbayev's government imprisons critics and limits freedom of expression.

Cameron said at a joint news conference that he had discussed these concerns with Nazerbayev and that the two countries had agreed to open a new chapter in their relationship based on stronger economic ties and closer cooperation on security and defense.

Cameron arrived in the Kazakh capital, Astana, after visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan.