Ushering new phase of bilateral talks between India and Uzbekistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov agreed to boost ties in the key areas of atomic energy, defence and trade. Another issue which topped the agenda of the talks between two leaders was the concern over rise in terrorism in their “extended neighbourhood”.
Prime Minister Narednra Modi landed in Uzbekistan on Monday evening as a part of his eight-day visit to Central Asia and Russia.
On Tuesday, he also paid tributes to the late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri at the bust erected in his memory in Tashkent.
“Paying tributes to the proud son of India, the inspiring Lal Bahadur Shastri ji,” PM Modi tweeted after paying tribute to the second Prime Minister of India.
Earlier in the talks held in the Uzbek capital city Tashkent, PM Modi and President Karimov discussed various ways to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties apart from reviewing key regional issues including the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint press conference with Uzbek President, PM Modi said, “We agreed to intensify security cooperation and exchanges. The bilateral Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism will meet later this year. We also agreed to strengthen cooperation in defence and cyber security,” the Prime Minister added.
The implementation of the crucial contract for the supply of uranium from mineral-rich Uzbekistan signed last year too was discussed. The pact was signed for supply of 2,000 metric tonnes of the yellow cake.
The two leaders also explored various initiatives to further enhance connectivity between the two countries and in this context PM Modi briefed President Karimov about the International North-South Transport Corridor and proposed that Uzbekistan consider becoming a member. The Prime Minister also sought Uzbek President’s support for India joining the Ashgabat Agreement.
The International North-South Transport Corridor is a ship, rail and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia while the Ashgabat Agreement is a transit pact established in 2011 between Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Oman.
Uzbekistan President Karimov acknowledged that strengthening relations with India is one of the top foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan.
“The sides agreed to maintain regular bilateral consultations and political dialogue through exchange of official visits at the leadership and other levels to promote mutual understanding on bilateral as well as regional and international issues,” the joint statement issued after the talks stated.
In another important highlight of the talks, both the sides called for comprehensive reforms in UN Security Council. Uzbekistan, on its part, reaffirmed its support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Noting that the pacts inked today in the field of culture and tourism will bring people of the two countries closer, the PM added “Few countries can match Uzbekistan in nurturing Hindi and Indian culture. Tomorrow, I look forward to meeting a vibrant group of Indologists and Hindi linguists”.
(With inputs from the PTI)