India considers Central Asia as part of its extended neighbourhood

In a bid to strengthen its relations with Central Asia nations, Tajikistan Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin will be paying an official visit to New Delhi on December 18 to 20. New Delhi will also host the Third India-Central Asia Dialogue at the same time.

Both the announcements were made by Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi in his weekly press briefing on Thursday.

“At the invitation of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin will be paying an official visit to New Delhi on December 18 to 20,” Bagchi said.

The Tajik Foreign Minister’s meeting with EAM Jaishankar on December 18 will discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest, he stated.

They will also take a comprehensive review of bilateral cooperation, the MEA Spokesperson added.

The visiting Foreign Minister is also expected to meet other dignitaries during his visit, he said.

There have been an active exchange of visits between both sides during the year, Bagchi noted.

EAM Jaishanakar had visited Tajikistan on three occasions during this year for a bilateral visit as well as participating in the Heart of Asia Conference in March, the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in June and SCO Council of Heads of State Summit in September, the MEA Spokesperson mentioned.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had visited Tajikistan in June this year for the SCO meetings. From the Tajik side Secretary of Security Council visited India in February and again in November for the Regional Security Dialogue, he informed.

The visit of the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan will sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges and further strengthen the strategic partnership between our two countries, Bagchi maintained.

In his second announcement, the MEA Spokesperson said, “EAM Jaishankar will be hosting the 3rd meeting of the India Central Asia Dialogue in New Delhi from December 18-20.”

Foreign Ministers of Kazakstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan apart from India will participate in the meeting, he informed.

The second meeting was organised by India in October 2020 in video-conferencing format, he recalled.

There have been ongoing engagements between India and 5 Central Asian countries over the last few years, he said.

India considers Central Asia as part of its extended neighbourhood, Bagchi noted.

EAM Jaishankar visited Kazakstan, Krygyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan this year and also met with the Foreign Ministers of Turkmenistan in October this year, he stated.

As part of the 3rd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue on 19th December, the ministers are expected to discuss further strengthening of relations between India and Central Asian countries with particular focus on trade, connectivity and development cooperation.

They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interests.

The Foreign Ministers of the Central Asian countries are expected to pay a joint courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The holding of the annual meetings of India-Central Asia Dialogue is symbolic of the interests of all member countries for great engagement between them in a spirit of friendship, trust and mutual understanding, the MEA Spokesperson said.