Updated: January 20, 2022 2:07:55 am
After rising Covid-19 cases cancelled the visit of the leaders of five central Asian nations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Wednesday said India will host the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan virtually. The summit will be held a day after Republic Day, which the five presidents were to attend as the chief guests.
The MEA added Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the “first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit, with the participation” of the five Presidents — Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and Kyrgyz Republic’s Sadyr Japarov — in a virtual format.
This, the statement said, “will be the first engagement of its kind between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders.”
The meeting is significant given that three of these five nations — Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — share boundaries with Afghanistan, where the takeover by the Taliban in August last year has left India concerned.
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Additionally, three of the five nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan — also share land boundaries with China, with which India is involved in an over 21-month long standoff in eastern Ladakh.
The MEA also said that the first India-Central Asia Summit “is a reflection of India’s growing engagement with the Central Asian countries,” which are a part of India’s “Extended Neighbourhood”.
It mentioned that Modi “paid a historic visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015” and since then, there have been “exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forums”.
The inception of the India-Central Asia Dialogue at Foreign Ministers’ level, the third meeting of which was held in New Delhi from December 18 to 20 recently, “has provided an impetus to India-Central Asia relations”.
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 November 10, 2021 outlined a common regional approach on Afghanistan, the MEA said.
“During the first India-Central Asia Summit, the leaders are expected to discuss steps to take forward India-Central Asia relations to newer heights. They are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues of interest, especially the evolving regional security situation,” the statement added.
The MEA called the summit “symbolic of the importance attached by the leaders of India and the Central Asian countries to a comprehensive and enduring India-Central Asia partnership”.
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