India on Sunday let the five Central Asian countries know that it was ready to take its cooperation with them to “the next level” and that it would be a “steadfast partner” in their development journey.
The message was delivered by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar during the third India-Central Asia Dialogue attended by his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
While senior leaders from the five countries are expected to attend Republic Day celebrations on January 26, Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov described the dialogue as preparation for the “next Central Asia-India summit in January” .
India has reached out to all the top leaders of the five countries to honor Republic Day celebrations, a move that comes against the backdrop of New Delhi’s rapidly expanding ties with the region.
“We are very satisfied with the state of our bilateral relations. But we know that the potential is much greater. Each of us today faces the test of rebuilding our economy,” Jaishankar said in his speech. opening speech.
“Our pursuit of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) must also be energized. But together we can do better and India, I assure you, will be your steadfast partner,” he said.
The Foreign Minister referred to the rapidly changing global economic and political situation and stressed the need for the two sides to further expand cooperation in various fields.
“We already have a good history of cooperation. But my message to you today is a willingness to take it to the next level. Our ties must now focus around the 4 Cs: trade, capacity building, connectivity and contacts, ”he said.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi spoke about shared priorities and the commitment to elevate the two-way partnership to a new level.
He said that the strategic partnership between Central Asia and India is developing dynamically, covering new areas of cooperation.
The Foreign Minister praised India’s active role and growing interest in Central Asia, saying it has enormous potential for the region’s development.
In his remarks, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev referred to India’s good relations with the region, describing it as a strategic partner for all Central Asian states.
Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin said his country viewed the India-Central Asia dialogue as the key to developing and strengthening a mutually beneficial partnership.
He said the growing trend of regional integration in Central Asia creates new opportunities to expand cooperation between the region and India. In addition, India is one of the fastest growing economies with a powerful industrial base and considerable scientific and technological potential, he noted.
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said the dialogue has become an effective tool to promote interregional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia.
In recent years, India has focused on expanding comprehensive cooperation with the energy-rich Central Asian countries, seeing them as part of its larger neighborhood.
India’s resumption of engagement in the region followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blitz tour of the five countries in July 2015, which resulted in the expansion of two-way ties in various areas.
Recent developments in Afghanistan have heightened the importance of the countries of Central Asia, three of them – Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – sharing borders with this war-torn country.
National security advisers from the five Central Asian countries attended a regional dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by India on November 10. NSAs from Russia and Iran also participated.
The second India-Central Asia Dialogue meeting was hosted by India in October last year as a digital video conference.
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