Popular British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen got an unexpected boost for his new movie when British papers published apparently false reports that he would be the subject of diplomatic meetings between the U.S. and Kazakhstan.
The reports were strongly denied by Roman Vassilenko, the Press Secretary at the Kazakhstan Embassy. "The meetings have nothing to do with Cohen," he told ABC News.
The White House also dispelled their erroneous reporting three different times to ABC News, saying that there is "no truth to it."
In Cohen's new "mocumentary" style film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Cohen plays the fictional Borat, a blundering Kazakh TV reporter who conducts real interviews on unsuspecting Americans while on a tour across the country.
Cohen's portrayal of Borat, the anti-Semitic and incestuous Kazakh protagonist-reporter, has drawn the ire of Kazakhstan's government -- a country trying to improve its cultural image around the world -- ever since Borat was first featured several years ago on Cohen's popular HBO series, "Da Ali G Show."
(At one point it was widely reported that the Kazakhstan government had threatened legal action on Cohen for defamation. But the threats never resulted in any real case against the popular cult hero.)
The erroneous headline of a White House meeting revolving around Cohen's portrayal of Kazakhstan was played up big by the Daily Mail as well the oft gossipy Wonkette.com.
Kazakhstan's embassy spokesman scoffed at the idea that Borat would be on the Sept. 29 agenda between the two nations. "The whole premise of the story in the Daily Mail is actually misplaced," Vassilenko told ABC News.
"My quotes were misinterpreted, and it of course has nothing to do with Borat coming out. It has to do with the logic of the relations between the two countries," Vassilenko said .
The "logic of the relations" between Kazakhstan and the United States is simple. Kazakhstan is a stable secular country located in a very strategic region with major energy and investment opportunities for the United States.
"The U.S. is the largest investor in Kazakhstan and has invested $15 billion in Kazakhstan. That's the largest share of the $45 billion foreign investment in Kazakhstan since our independence," Vassilenko told ABC News.
What's more, is that many see the U.S.-Kazakhstan talks as political payback for Kazakhstan's cooperation on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Vassilenko said, "Kazakhstan has really supported the United States and the war on terrorism and is the only country in Central Asia to send troops to Iraq."
The Kazakhstan Embassy further confirms that not only will Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev visit the White House, but he will also make a trip to the Bush compound in Maine to meet with Bush 41. It is all part of a heavy p.r. blitz by the Kazahk embassy to promote a better image of Kazakhstan in anticipation of further talks with the White House and America's interests abroad.
For Cohen, the cultural and political image of Kazakhstan is the fodder that has helped make him famous as his film debuts this week at the Toronto Film Festival.
"Please, you come see my film. If it not success, I will be execute," Borat "reports" of his possible execution at the end of the film's trailer on his website.
However, Vassilenko and the Kazakh government do not find Cohen's humor so amusing and wish to focus on building positive diplomacy between the two nations. "I really hope people understand that this is just a prank and a joke, and it has nothing to do with reality in Kazakhstan," Vassilenko said.