AKIPRESS.COM - The 3rd meeting of India-Central Asia Dialogue, hosted by India, was held in New Delhi on Sunday. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan took part in the meeting. A joint statement was issued after the meet, Mint reported.
India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S.Jaishankar, while presiding over the meet, congratulated Foreign Ministers of Central Asian countries on the 30th anniversary of their independence.
The Ministers expressed their solidarity with those who were negatively affected by the Covid-19 and emphasized the need for collective cooperation in the fight against pandemic and its aftermath.
In his opening remarks Jaishankar pitched for finding ways to help the Afghan people. "We all share deep-rooted historical and civilisational ties with Afghanistan. Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar," he said.
Jaishankar said India is committed to take its ties with the Central Asia to the next level. He floated a ‘Four-C' approach focusing on Commerce, Capacity enhancement, Connectivity and Contacts to further expand the cooperation between the two sides.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted an enormous setback to global health and to global economy," Jaishankar said. "India will be your steadfast partner," he emphasized.
The ministers emphasized that establishment of long-term relations between Central Asia and India is aimed at enhancing regional peace, security, stability, sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region.
The ministers also expressed interest in strengthening mutual cooperation in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation among themselves.
The sides expressed their desire to deepen cooperation in the health-care sector, including medical tourism. Increasing tourist arrivals, including in the segments of pilgrimage and historical and cultural tourism, creating tourism trails across the region, encouraging investment in tourism infrastructure were emphasized.
On Afghanistan issue, the Ministers reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs.
They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to continue to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021) which unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups. The Ministers also agreed to continue close consultations on the situation in Afghanistan.
The Ministers emphasized on optimum usage of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) as well as Ashgabat Agreement on International Transport and Transit Corridor to enhance connectivity between India and the Central Asian countries.
They stressed on to include Chabahar Port in Iran within the framework of INSTC. India welcomed their interest on the Port for facilitating their trade with India and beyond.
The Ministers from Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic welcomed the mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certificates between their countries and India, while the Ministers of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan looked forward to early mutual recognition of vaccine certification with India.
The Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic sought support of other Ministers for their proposal to declare 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. The Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan sought support of the other Ministers for their proposal to hold in 2022 in Uzbekistan (Nukus, Karakalpakstan) a high-level UN International Forum on "green” energy.
The Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan stressed on the importance of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project.
Foreign ministers of Central Asian countries welcomed the signing of MoUs for implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPs) for socio-economic development in Central Asian countries, based on grant assistance by India.
The Foreign Ministers appreciated the important role of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program in capacity building and human resource development of their countries, especially in Information Technology and Communication Skills in the English language.
External Affairs Minister of India offered to increase the number of ITEC slots as per the requirements of the Central Asian countries and also organize customized training programs in India for the professionals from the Central Asian countries in the fields of counter-terrorism, cyber security, space, energy, WTO etc.
Highlighting that India and Central Asian countries share deep-rooted historical relations, Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Ruslan Kazakbaev said that New Delhi is the strategic partner of all countries in the region.
In his remarks at the Dialogue, Kazakbaev said ”I'm very happy to say that we are having good relations and talks with India in the Central Asia region, which provides the dynamics of relations”, adding that dialogues between participating countries in such meetings are fruitful.
While recalling the recent talks on Afghanistan, Kazakbaev said a "special place of our relations is security and we are happy that we had recently talked about Afghanistan about the safety and security of the region.”
"We are ready to support and collaborate in all the measures to make this region safer. And we wish that further also we would develop our relations," he said.
Jaishankar and Kazakbaev met separately on Sunday on the sidelines of the Dialogue.
In the last few years, India has been focusing on expanding overall cooperation with Central Asian countries, considering them to be part of its extended neighbourhood.
The upswing in India's engagement with the region followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's whirlwind tour of the five countries in July 2015 that resulted in the expansion of two-way ties in a range of areas.
The recent developments in Afghanistan reinforced the importance of the Central Asian countries with three of them -- Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- sharing borders with the war-torn nation.