During his visit to oil-rich Kazakhstan Thursday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and other government officials in Astana to discuss improving business ties between the countries and greater rights for the country’s ethnic German minority population. "Kazakhstan is very important for German enterprises," Schröder told reporters. "Kazakhstan plays a stabilizing role in this unquiet region and economic cooperation contributes to stabilizing and calming the region." Schröder said his goal was to double trade levels with the Central Asian country within three years. The chancellor is being accompanied on his trip by a large delegation of German executives. The government said the companies closed €550 million in deals during the trip.