External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee [Images] performed the first protocol duties of the prime minister on Saturday as he received Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan [Images].
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] underwent a by-pass surgery, Mukherjee joined President Pratibha Patil [Images] in welcoming Nazarbayev on the forecourt of the majestic Presidential Palace.
"Our prime minister is indisposed, hence I am receiving you," Mukherjee, the senior-most minister in the Union Cabinet, told the Kazakh President while greeting him.
After Nazarbayev inspected the tri-services Guard of Honour, Mukherjee introduced to him cabinet ministers who had assembled there for the ceremonial welcome. These duties are actually carried out by the prime minister.
The external affairs minister will lead the delegation level talks with the Kazakh president, who is on his fourth visit to India since Kazakhstan was separated from the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991.
The venue of the talks, which were originally scheduled between Dr Singh and Nazarbayev, has also been shifted from the Hyderabad House to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
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