On Wednesday, the 2nd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue was held via video-conference. The meeting was conducted under the chairmanship of the External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar. Other ministers including the Foreign Ministers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan as well as the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic participated in the meeting. Acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also attended the meeting.
During the meeting, the ministers spoke about the 1st meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue. In the 1st meeting, they had strengthened the cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries in political, security, economic and commercial, development partnership, and many more aspects under the framework of UN and other multilateral fora. They had requested for building a comprehensive and enduring India-Central Asia partnership based on their historical, cultural, and civilizational bonds as well as traditionally close people-to-people contacts.
In today’s meeting, the ministers highlighted the need to continue close cooperation between the Sanitary and Epidemiological Services of India and the Central Asian countries in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. They also praised the provision by India of a US $1 billion Line of Credit for priority development projects in fields such as connectivity, energy, IT, healthcare, and education. The Ministers also welcomed India’s offer to provide grant assistance for the implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) for furthering socio-economic development in the countries of the region.
At the conference, they spoke about the efforts to expand trade and economic cooperation. The Ministers welcomed the launch of the India-Central Asia Business Council (ICABC) in New Delhi on 6 February 2020, comprising the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
They also mentioned that as a B2B 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.
They also discussed the increasing violence and terrorism. The Ministers condemned terrorism and reiterated the determination of their countries to fight against it. They welcomed the participation of Afghanistan in the India-Central Asia Dialogue. They requested for the settlement of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled peace process.
The Ministers 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. 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
The Ministers highlighted the significance of connectivity for increasing trade and commerce as well as people-to-people contacts between India and the Central Asian countries. They outlined the significance of humanitarian, cultural, educational, and tourism cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries. Keeping in mind the 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.
The Ministers of the Central Asian countries appreciated India for conducting 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, organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi in December 2019. They also expressed their gratitude to the External Affairs Minister of India for the organization of the 2nd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue.