The two sides discussed close cooperation in political and security matters. All Foreign Ministers echoed similar sentiments on combating terrorism by destroying safe-havens, infrastructure, network and funding channels and underlined the need for every country to ensure that their territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries, ET has learnt.
There was emphasis on promoting connectivity and development partnerships between India and Central Asian countries. There was announcement of grant financing by India for high impact community development projects in Central Asian countries.
There was also emphasis on reinvigorating trade and commerce partnerships by overcoming lack of overland connectivity barrier.
There was establishment of working groups by India Central Asia Business Council comprising of apex Chambers of all participating countries on identified priority areas.
All Ministers called for settlement of the Afghan conflict on the basis of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process.
“India and Central Asia share ancient historical and cultural linkages. We consider Central Asia as India’s ‘extended neighbourhood’. We share a common geography which facilitated continuous exchange of people, ideas and goods in both directions and left indelible imprints on our customs, traditions and languages…As developing countries, we share common perspectives on opportunities and challenges for the development of our countries and the prosperity of our people. We also share commonality of views on various regional and international issues. We face common challenges of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and such other issues. All these commonalities make us a natural partner in our developmental journey,” Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said in his opening remarks.
The Foreign Ministers highly assessed the 1st meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue held on 13 January 2019 in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) in establishing a platform for strengthening cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries. They called for building a comprehensive and enduring India-Central Asia partnership.
The Ministers emphasized 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 the Central Asian countries welcomed the provision by India of $ 1 billion Line of Credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture etc. They 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 Ministers emphasized 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. In this context, the Ministers welcomed the launch of the India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC).
The Ministers emphasized that as a B2B body under the India- Central Asia Dialogue, ICABC should promote business linkages, facilitate greater understanding of taxation, business regulations in India and the Central Asian countries and incentivize trade, business and investment, especially in the area of Small and Medium Enterprises.
The Ministers emphasized 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.
In this regard, the Ministers of the Central Asian countries appreciated India’s efforts to modernize the infrastructure of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could become an important link in trade and transport communications between the markets of Central and South Asia.
The Ministers drew attention to the significant potential for joint initiatives in the implementation of cultural events, educational and research projects with the participation of Afghanistan and expressed their intention to promote the participation of the Afghan side in international youth forums, festivals, competitions, scientific conferences, exhibitions and other joint events.
The Ministers underscored the importance of humanitarian, cultural, educational and tourism cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries. Increasing tourism arrivals, creating tourism trails across the region, making visa process simpler and encouraging investment in tourism infrastructure was emphasized. Taking note of the large number of students from India and the Central Asian countries studying in each other’s higher educational institutions, the Ministers stressed the importance of ensuring their social welfare.