It was the first India-Central Asia Summit on Thursday in a virtual format. The important summit marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the meeting which was attended by the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
A decision was taken to ‘institutionalise’ the summit mechanism and hold it every two years.
PM Modi laid out three objectives of India-Central Asia ties in the opening remarks.
He said, “Cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity. From the Indian point of view, I would like to emphasize that Central Asia is crucial to India’s vision of an integrated and stable, extended neighbourhood.”
The second objective remains to give an effective structure to the shared cooperation. This will establish a framework of regular interactions at different levels and among various stakeholders. While the third objective is to create an ambitious roadmap for this cooperation.
It is noteworthy that this meeting comes two days after Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the Central Asian leadership.
China offered $500 million assistance to the region pledging to increase trade between the two sides to $70 billion by 2030.
When it comes to India, it focused on a few major issues including the Afghanistan situation. Prime Minister Modi also called for the formation of “Joint Working Groups at the senior official level on Afghanistan and the use of Chabahar Port”.
Some of the important areas of discussions were ‘trade and connectivity’, ‘development cooperation’, ‘defence and security’, ‘cultural and people-to-people contacts’.
Deliberations over Afghanistan
The war-torn country Afghanistan also found an important mention in this virtual summit with Central Asia. Mr Modi while discussing the evolving situation in Afghanistan reiterated the need for stronger support towards a peaceful, secure, and stable region.
The need of the hour is an inclusively representative government. PM Modi also conveyed India’s continued commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
In fact, the Afghan situation is what makes this cooperation between India and Central Asia all the more important. The group aims to work towards regional stability and security.
The Delhi Declaration document also reiterates the leaders’ support to ‘respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs.’
The summit leaders also ‘reaffirmed’ the importance of the UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021); it unequivocally demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning, or financing terrorist acts and calls for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Besides, humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan, preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups and minorities also remains Delhi Declaration’s motto.
TAPI Gas Pipeline Project
To further expand inter-connectivity, the President of Turkmenistan stressed the importance of TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India) gas pipeline project.
TAPI, Peace Pipeline and Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline will be a 1,814 km trans-country natural gas pipeline running across four countries.
It will transport natural gas from Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
Trade and connectivity remain one of the important facets of this India-Central Asia summit. All the sides stressed on accelerating the efforts to promote business linkages, to ease regulations and incentivize mutual investments.
Apart from this, there is great emphasis on boosting trade and investment in sectors ranging from medicine, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education, information technology, BPO, infrastructure, agriculture and processing of agricultural products, energy, space industry among others.
The scourge of terrorism was also discussed during the summit. One of India’s greatest concerns remains Afghanistan. The anti-India forces operating there and the neighbouring regions is a grave threat to its security and peace.
Currently, coronavirus also remains a big threat world economies. Therefore, providing a boost to the pharma sector, trade and industries among others will prove to be of immense help in combating shaky recoveries.
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