New Delhi [India], October 28 (ANI): The Foreign Minister of India and the Central Asian countries on Wednesday called for building a comprehensive and enduring India-Central Asia partnership on the basis of their historical, cultural and civilisational bonds as well as traditionally close people-to-people contacts.
The second meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held in a virtual format under the chairmanship of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic.
During the meeting, the Ministers assessed the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue held on January 13, 2019, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in establishing a platform for strengthening cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries in political, security, economic and commercial, development partnership, humanitarian and cultural spheres as well as exchanging views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and enhancing cooperation under the framework of the United Nations and other multilateral fora.
According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), "The Ministers emphasised the need to continue close cooperation between the Sanitary and Epidemiological Services of India and the Central Asian countries in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan acknowledged India's humanitarian medical assistance to their countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
During the meeting, the Central Asian countries also welcomed the provision by India of USD 1 billion Line of Credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture among others.
The Ministers also welcomed India's offer to provide grant assistance for implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) for furthering socio-economic development in the countries of the region.
The dignitaries emphasised the importance of concerted efforts to further expand trade and economic cooperation including promoting direct ties between the businesses of India and the Central Asian countries, the MEA said.
It further said that the Ministers stressed that as a B2B body under the India-Central Asia Dialogue, India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC) should promote business linkages, facilitate greater understanding of taxation, business regulations in India and the Central Asian countries and incentivise trade, business and investment, especially in the area of small and medium enterprises.
While lauding India's efforts to modernise the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, the Central Asian Foreign Ministers highlightted the importance of connectivity for increasing trade and commerce as well as people-to-people contacts between India and the Central Asian countries.
"The Ministers expressed their continued interest in further developing the transit and transport potential of their countries, improving the logistics network of the region and promoting joint initiatives to create regional and international transport corridors," the MEA statement read.
Meanwhile, the Central Asian countries strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed the determination of their countries to combat this menace by destroying terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels. They also emphasised the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries.
On the issue of the return of peace in Afghanistan, the called for the settlement of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process.
They expressed their interest in strengthening cooperation for the development and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, including through the implementation of infrastructure, energy, transit and transport projects. "They also emphasized preserving the socio-economic development and political gains made by Afghanistan in the last 19 years. The Ministers extended support for a united, sovereign and democratic Republic of Afghanistan," the MEA said.
Drawing attention to the significant potential for joint initiatives in the implementation of cultural events, educational and research projects with the participation of Afghanistan, the Ministers expressed their interest in promoting the participation of the Afghan side in international youth forums, festivals, competitions, scientific conferences, exhibitions and other joint events.
"The Ministers of the Central Asian countries expressed appreciation to India for hosting of the Central Asian media delegation in India in April 2019, the training of Central Asian diplomats at the Sushma Swaraj Foreign Service Institute in New Delhi in July 2019 and the Annual International Dance Festival with a focus on Central Asia, organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi in December 2019," the statement added. (ANI)