Foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries call on PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday highlighted the importance India attaches to its ties with Central Asian countries as part of its “extended neighbourhood” at a meeting with five foreign ministers from the region.

The visiting foreign ministers called on the Prime Minister a day after attending the third India-Central Asia dialogue hosted by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

“Met the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. We discussed ways to further strengthen India’s close partnership with Central Asia, and also exchanged views on developments in the region,” PM Modi tweeted.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister underscored the potential of enhancing economic cooperation between India and Central Asia, and the role of connectivity in that regard, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

“The prime minister emphasised the importance that India attaches to its long-standing relations with Central Asian countries, which are part of its ‘extended neighbourhood’,” it said.

It said PM Modi underlined the importance of maintaining cultural and people-to-people contacts between India and Central Asia given the popularity of Indian films, music and yoga in the region.

The Central Asian foreign ministers conveyed the greetings of their presidents to Modi and emphasised the readiness of their leadership to further strengthen relations with India.

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This comes amid indications that India has invited the presidents of the five countries to attend the upcoming Republic Day celebrations as chief guests.

During the meeting, the foreign ministers briefed the Prime Minister on the deliberations at the India-Central Asia dialogue that focused on trade and connectivity, development partnership and regional developments, including the situation in Afghanistan.

The statement said the PM conveyed his felicitations to the ministers on the 30th anniversary of their independence this year.

“He recalled his memorable visits to all Central Asian countries in 2015 and subsequently to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz Republic,” it said.

“The prime minister underlined the importance of maintaining cultural and people-to-people contacts between India and Central Asia, given the popularity of Indian films, music, yoga, etc. in the region,” the statement said.

“The India-Central Asia dialogue has given impetus to the excellent bilateral relations between India and Central Asian countries. India and the Central Asian countries will mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations next year,” it said.

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