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At Central Asia meet, PM Modi talks of 30-yr plan on trade, connectivity

New Delhi, January 27

India and five Central Asian nations on Thursday identified energy, security and connectivity as focus areas at their first-ever summit held virtually. The summit, hosted by PM Narendra Modi, was attended by presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyz Republic.

Summit’s motives

1 Strong ties essential for regional security

2 Framework must for regular interactions

3 Roadmap for unity via integrated approach

Agreement on biennial meetings

Six nations agree to hold summit once in 2 years, set up joint groups
PM stresses framework for liaison at regional level
Seeks to strengthen ties in trade, culture, tourism, security
Suggests regional secretariat be set up in India

This was to be an in-person interaction, but rising Covid cases led to the cancellation of the presidents’ Delhi visit to attend the Republic Day parade as chief guests.

PM Modi sought to set an ambitious agenda by suggesting a roadmap for the next 30 years on connectivity and cooperation in an integrated manner, said MEA’s Secretary (West) Reenat Sandhu.

The joint declaration issued after the summit also identified health as another area of cooperation with the presidents keen on leading Indian hospital chains seeking to expand their footprint.

An important outcome of the meeting was the agreement to hold the summit once every two years. One of the key proposals by the Prime Minister was to institutionalise the framework for India-Central Asia cooperation at the regional level through line-level ministerial meetings to strengthen cooperation in political and developmental partnership, trade and connectivity, culture and tourism, and security, said Sandhu.

PM Modi suggested that an India-Central Asia centre to serve as a secretariat could be set up here. He said the interaction had three main objectives.

First, to make it clear that cooperation between India and Central Asia was essential for regional security. The second was to establish a framework of regular interactions and the third was to create a roadmap for cooperation through an integrated approach.

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