July 21, 2011 / 11:29 AM / 6 years ago

Kazakh leader back at work, meets PM - PM office

* PM spokesman confirms meeting with Nazarbayev

* President speaks to Uzbek counterpart

* German paper says Nazarbayev had prostate surgery

ASTANA, July 21 (Reuters) - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met his prime minister in the capital Astana on Thursday, a spokesman for the premier said, indicating that the veteran leader has returned to work after media reports that he had a prostate operation in Germany.

German newspaper Bild reported this week that Nazarbayev, 71, had undergone a prostate operation in a Hamburg hospital and was recovering well. There has been no official confirmation of this from either Kazakh or German officials.

Nazarbayev, a member of the last Soviet Communist Party politburo, is the only leader independent Kazakhstan has known. He has ruled the oil-rich country since 1989, two years before independence, and won a landslide election victory in April.

The absence of a clear successor is viewed by most investors as the single biggest threat to political stability in Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy and the recipient of more than $120 billion in foreign investment since independence.

The presidential website, www.akorda.kz, said on July 11 that Nazarbayev was on a short holiday. On Thursday, it reported he had spoken to Uzbek President Islam Karimov to offer support and condolences after a major earthquake.

The website gave no details of Nazarbayev’s whereabouts.

But a spokesman for Prime Minister Karim Masimov, who declined to be identified, said: “A meeting between the prime minister and the president took place in Astana.”

Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov, speaking at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday, said he expected the president to be back in his office on Thursday. He did not comment on the Bild reports. (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva, writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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