India-Central Asia Summit: Concern about Afghanistan makes cooperation important, says PM Modi

The virtual summit saw the participation of the presidents of the five Central Asian nations-Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan

India-Central Asia Summit: Concern about Afghanistan makes cooperation important, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts first India-Central Asia Summit. ANI

Central Asia is central to India’s vision of an integrated and stable extended neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as he hosted the first India-Central Asia Summit in a virtual format.

The meeting came as India and the Central Asian nations marked 30 years of diplomatic ties.

In his initial remarks, Modi said, “We all are concerned about the Afghan situation and this makes cooperation between India and Central Asia all the more important for regional stability and security.”

The virtual summit saw the participation of five presidents- Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyz Republic.

Three of the five nations, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, border Afghanistan where the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

Modi outlines the meeting’s three goals

“I want to make it clear that Central Asia is central to India’s vision of an integrated and stable neighbourhood,” Modi said.

“The second goal of today’s meeting is to give an effective structure to our cooperation, which will pave the way for the establishment of a platform for regular interaction among all stakeholders. The third goal is to prepare an ambitious roadmap for our cooperation, which will enable us to adopt an integrated approach for regional connectivity and cooperation,” he added.

Highlighting relations with individual Central Asian nations, the prime minister said that Kazakhstan has become an important partner in India’s energy security. He also expressed his condolences at the loss of lives in the recent Kazakhstan unrest. Apart from security, the summit focused on trade, culture, and people-to-people ties.

In a first, leaders of all the five Central Asian nations were invited as the chief guests for Republic Day, this year. However, the parade was held without a chief guest due to COVID-19 surge.

India-Central Asia relations

Modi paid a historic visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015. Subsequently, there have been high-level exchanges at bilateral and multilateral forums.

The inception of the India-Central Asia Dialogue at the Foreign Ministers’ level, the 3rd meeting of which was held in New Delhi from 18-20 December, 2021 provided an impetus to India-Central Asia ties.

The participation of the Secretaries of National Security Councils of Central Asian countries in the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held in New Delhi on 10 November, 2021, outlined a common regional approach towards Afghanistan.

With inputs from agencies

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