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497 A Crisis is Another Chance 3

Michael's unofficial invitation gave Youngho several messages. It had urged Youngho to diversify his diplomatic direction instead of only focusing on Europe, and to turn U.S. influential people pro-Kazakhstan. In a way, it meant that he should have many lobbyists. The United States was the paradise of lobbyists.
The lobbyists were people who do many activities to persuade policymakers or legislative lawmakers to make policy decisions in a certain direction. They also exerted influence on policy decisions by government officials. They belonged to a group that had interests in a particular law or were hired for the money of a group that wanted to pass or reject a particular bill.
In the case of Youngho, the U.S. intelligence chief Michael or Edward would be his potential lobbyists. So far, Michael had been able to help Youngho to the fullest extent permitted by the intelligence service's budget, but he would not be able to do that in the future. That was because the amount of aid could be large enough to make a political decision outside the intelligence service.

"Eriksson, Chief Michael asked me not to send a special envoy but invited me to the U.S. unofficially, what do you think?"

"It's quite encouraging."

"I thought so too. He said that people around him are dying to meet the Queen and me. I think he wants to introduce political figures to us. Do you think it's worth it?"

"You know that many times unofficial visits are more fruitful than official visits. Right?"

Official visits of a state guest that made a lot of fuss were nothing more than a political show. It was only to announce a joint statement and declare that the relationship was close to the outside world, and the leaders of the neighboring countries resolved everything by phone.

"I don't want to visit there either if it's official. If you're going to take a few photos and announce a joint statement, why would you spend so much money on it?"

"Hahaha... But that's what it's like when you need to show off your relationship abroad."

"I don't want to be in the spotlight. I'm more suitable for work behind the scenes. So, I think we should have a lobbyist in the U.S. How do you feel about that?"

"For Kazakhstan, a lobbyist is necessary. But you're already a lobbyist, are you sure you want to get another person that's qualified for your standards?"

"So far, I've been lucky, but I think there will be a lot of issues that need the consent of the U.S. Congress in the future."

"You don't have to worry too much about it. Our Information Agency has a lot of connections."

"You blow all of my concerns at once."

"But a necessary to find a lobbyist that will work as if he's your hands."

"How about Michael?"

"He'll be the best lobbyist for you."

"I don't know if Michael's going to move as I want him to."

***

A prototype of a tactical light armored vehicle was made at the Otokar's assembly plant in the royal territory. In spite of the cold weather, ministers and military personnel gathered from all over the country to see an armored vehicle.


"People are so interested in the light armored vehicle now. I bet they'd go crazy if we develop a missile or a fighter jet, Prime Minister."

"I'm also excited because I used to serve in the military. I want to drive it myself."

"We've increased our production plan from 200 to 300 units a year."

"That'll be welcomed in the front line. When are tanks going to be released?"

"We're in trouble after Koç Holding moved here. It handed over the tank design technology to the Turkish government beforehand. So, I am going to make a technical partnership with a German or Korean company."

"Most of the Chinese and Russian borders are mountainous, so Korean tanks are more likely to be suitable for the border than German ones."

"Then I'll have to meet with the Korean company. And sooner or later, all of Saab's Gripen fighter jets will be assembled and produced. A fighter jet would be more powerful than a dozen of tanks."

"If that happens, I won't have any more wish."

In the near future, Koç Holding's combat helicopters and Saab's Gripen fighter jets would also be assembled and showcased at the royal territory. Strong air force was necessary to dominate the battlefield. So he planned to produce them as long as the funds were permitted.
In order to have unlimited funds, Kazakhstan would have to find a vein of gold buried somewhere in the land, but there was no news of it even though the latest exploration equipment had been used.
The amount of gold secured by searching homes of miners after nationalizing gold mines in the early stages of the new government was about 30 tons. This meant that the gold buried in various parts of the country could be a lot more in the vast country. Gold taken from private gold mines in the remote places was still being traded in the underground market, which was estimated to be around six tons per year. The land was so rich in gold resources that even gold smugglers were said to favor two countries the most, which were Siberia and Kazakhstan. Although the estimated gold reserves of Kazakhstan were 30,000 tons, it could be a lot more since that was a mere estimation.

"Your Highness, have you heard about the gold mine in the Alatau Mountains near Almaty?"

"I expected to hear some good news soon, but so far I haven't heard any news about it."

"That was a few months ago. I'm afraid you're not very curious about the news you'll be pleased to hear."

Prime Minister Kasim was usually straightforward, but today, he was taking time to speak.

"Did you find a thick vein of gold?"

"I got a call from the head of the mine yesterday, and he had a massive vein of gold. He said he will make a report after a full exploration, but I think you can look forward to seeing something great."

"Really? Let's go there now."

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Since Youngho had seen how veins of gold looked like in the Serbian ranch, he could recognize a large vein of gold at a glance.

***

Almaty was a city located on a high ground of 750 meters above sea level. The high elevation of the sea level meant that there were high mountains or mountain ranges around, and Almaty, which used to be a fortress in the Imperial Russian era, was on the north side of the Alatau.
Located south of Kazakhstan, it was not too cold, but in winter, the temperature was about minus 20 degrees in Celsius in general. It was still minus 14 degrees even though it was February when winter was coming to an end.
As Youngho was in the Arirang royal territory until yesterday, he felt like it was a spring day even at minus 14 degrees Celsius.

"The road to the mine is well paved."

"This is only recently improved. When the ground melted, it got muddy to the point where mineral haulers could not travel anymore. It's been fixed to this extent because you've been instructing to keep it clear around the mine."

Since Kazakhstan was a country with only resources to boast of, any mine should be properly maintained and managed, but it seemed people had no such awareness.
The road to transport minerals was not repaired, causing dust and smoke to reach Almaty. The yearly precipitation in the region was about 750 millimeters, which was three times as much as any other region in Kazakhstan. The mine shafts on the outskirts of the city played a role in polluting the air of Almaty. So, Youngho prioritized repairing the road leading to the mine. Behind his encouragement, was the expectation of increased productivity for underground minerals.
When he arrived at the mine, the mine manager and the head security officer almost rolled out hastily to meet Youngho's group.
Apart from being surprised by the fact that the Duke and the Prime Minister had appeared in the remote area, they were extremely nervous by their sudden arrival. For them, gold was only a common mineral because Kazakhstan was full of gold mines, and alluvial gold was easy to find where there used to be rivers.

"You have worked hard for the nation and the people, but I have always felt heavy-hearted because I couldn`t give you enough support. Tonight, I'm treating every worker, so please feel free to eat as much as you want."

When Youngho expressed his earnest feeling, the mine officials were at a loss. They had not expected the Duke of the Kazakh royal family would be so humble in front of them.

"Kazakhstan would be an increasingly powerful country with your efforts, a place where everyone lives without worrying. Have a drink, everyone. I'd love to get drunk with you today, too."

"Your Highness, are you planning to sleep here today? You'll be uncomfortable with the lack of accommodation."

"What do you think? The workers here stay here for a long time at the expense of the inconvenience. Spending the night here doesn't sound so bad. Mr. Prime Minister, let's loosen our belt and drink as much as we can. Isn't today a good day?"

"Yes, I'll try to get drunk with you today."

"Come on! Everyone, have a glass. For Kazakhstan!'

"For Kazakhstan!"

The reason that Youngho was extremely excited tonight was because he had seen the mine map given to him by the mine manager.
The vein of gold shown on the map was several times thicker than the mine in the Baku's Serbian ranch, and it has so many branches as well. Youngho was so thrilled that it was hard to breathe normally for a while.
The gold mine in Baku also collected about two tons of gold a year, so the mine in Almaty would collect a lot more than that. Moreover, there were dozens of mines like this, and the manager said that he was expecting to find more veins in the near future. He boasted that this kind of gold vein would be world-class.
When he said that the mine area needed to be designated as a special district, Youngho almost cried in joy. As he drank and ate with the workers, he imagined hundreds of fighter jets flying over the Kazakh sky.