India plans to invite five Central Asian presidents for Republic Day celebrations

India had provided a $1 billion line of credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture in Central Asia.

India is planning to invite five Central Asian leaders for Republic Daycelebrations as part of efforts to expand its Eurasian outreach, amid China's inroads in the region and threat of radicalisation from the Afghan theatre. 

ET has learnt that all sides are working on the details for the proposed visit of the five leaders from KazakhstanUzbekistan,Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Besides development partnerships, investments, security partnerships and connectivity via Iran’s Chabahar Port to Central Asia, often considered India’s extended neighbourhood, are expected to be on the agenda during the visit. 

This will be preceded by a meeting between foreign ministers of India and the Central Asian countries here on December 18-19, as reported by ET earlier this week. 

In November, India hosted the national security advisors of Central Asia besides Russia and Iran for the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan. During the India-Russia 2 + 2 meet in Delhi on December 6, both sides discussed proposals for joint projects in Central Asia, a region where Russia still has huge stakes including military pacts with three of the five countries. Moscow has been keen that New Delhi increases its footprints in the region. 

From Central Asia, then Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had participated in India’s Republic Day celebrations in 2009. During Nazarbayev’s visit, the two countries had singed a deal for Kazakhstan to supply uranium to India. Subsequently, India’s ties with Uzbekistan have also improved with the current President visiting India twice in the last few years and that country also emerging as a source for uranium to fuel India’s nuclear power plants. 

India’s defence ties besides development partnership with the landlocked region has been expanding. Engagement with Central Asia is critical not only for fight against terrorism and extremists but also to further India’s Eurasian stakes. The strong bonds between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union have contributed to New Delhi’s growing ties with the Central Asian region. India’s presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is also contributing to this. 

India had provided a $1 billion line of credit for priority developmental projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture in Central Asia. India has also offered to provide grant assistance for implementation of high impact community development projects. 

At the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan last month, NSAs from India, Russia, Iran and Central Asia had called for the creation of an inclusive government in Kabul and resolved to fight terror and radical forces. The situation in Afghanistan and cross-border threats from there besides the looming humanitarian crisis were on the agenda. 

The foreign ministers of India-Central Asia at the 2020 meet had 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 had also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries. 

The ministers had 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. They had also referred to the importance of connectivity for increasing trade and commerce as well as people-to-people contacts between India and the Central Asian countries through the International North–South Transport Corridor and Chabahar Port.



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