Strong bilateral ties add strength to the India-Central Asia platform

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New Delhi: All eyes are on for the first virtual Summit on Jan 27.

Trade and Connectivity, Development Partnership, Strategic partnership, Culture and people to People contacts would figure prominently at the first virtual India-Central Asia Summit on Thursday, Jan 27.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the maiden meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit. Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will participate at the Summit.

Sources said some bilateral issues like relationships with Kazakhstan and other countries would focus on strategic partnership.

Last year NSAs of central Asian countries and India Ajit Doval had a crucial meet, and so did Foreign Ministers at a later stage.

There have been frequent visits of leaders of Kazakhstan and India to each other’s countries. Already there have been five such visits by Kazakh first President Nazarbayev to India.

PM Modi also visited Kazakhstan in 2015 and 2017. There is a high volume of trade between India and Kazakhstan in the Central Asian region (USD 1.9 bn in 2020-21), majorly oil. There are around 8000 strong Indian communities, including 5000 medical students.

Sources also said there have been strong bilateral relations between India and the Kyrgyz Republic as well.

Mr Modi visited the Kyrgyz Republic in 2015 and 2019. Former Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov attended PM’s swearing-in May 2019. India also helped establish 5 Telemedicine centres in the Kyrgyz Republic.

There have been Annual Joint military exercises in Khanjar, and a strong Indian student community of over 15000 reside and study in Kyrgyzstan.

With Tajikistan, there is strong cooperation in defence, including India-Tajik Friendship hospital. Both the countries also have a “very similar position on Afghanistan”, sources said.

With Uzbekistan, there has been a strong strategic partnership and also frequent high-level visits. There is good cooperation between the Andijan region and Gujarat. Notably, India, Uzbekistan and Iran have been working on a trilateral project at Chabahar.

There has been other cooperation like setting up of campuses by Indian Universities like Sharda, Amity and Sambhroom in Uzbekistan.
Sources said in Turkmenistan, the first Yoga and Traditional Medicine centre in Central Asia was set up in Ashgabat in 2015.

India also had established IT Centre in 2011 and an Industrial Training Centre in 2002.

The Summit is certainly seen as a “symbolic of the importance” attached to a comprehensive and enduring India-Central Asia partnership by the Leaders of India and the Central Asian countries.

This will be the first engagement of its kind between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders.

The first India-Central Asia Summit reflects India’s growing engagement with the Central Asian countries, which are a part of India’s “Extended Neighbourhood”

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