Turkmen President’s Son Held Unannounced Meeting With Nazarbaev

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Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev held talks with the son of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov ahead of a Central Asian summit in Astana, Nazarbaev's office said a day after the meeting.

The revelation on March 16 is likely to reinforce speculation that Serdar Berdymukhammedov, a lawmaker and the only son of the authoritarian Turkmen president, may be being groomed to succeed his father.

Nazarbaev discussed Kazakh-Turkmen ties with Serdar Berdymukhammedov hours before the summit in Astana on March 15, a statement on the Kazakh president's website said.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was the only one of the five Central Asian presidents who did not attend the summit, officially sending Turkmen parliament chairwoman Akja Nurberdyeva in his stead.

There were no official reports saying that Nazarbaev, who met separately with the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan ahead of the summit, held any talks with Nurberdyeva.

There were also no earlier reports saying that Serdar Berdymukhammedov was travelling to Astana.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 60, has ruled the former Soviet republic since his autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in December 2006.

Serdar Berdymukhammedov has headed a parliamentary committee on legal affairs since March 2017.

Before he became a lawmaker in November 2016, he was chief of the Foreign Ministry's information department.

His career arc has been seen by political analysts as a sign that he is being groomed to eventually succeed his father as president.

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