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New Delhi: Having acted as a grand stage for the 'Great Game' between big powers for centuries, Central Asia is crucial for India from the security as well as economic point of view.
Noting that Central Asia is central to India's vision of an integrated and stable extended neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that mutual cooperation has achieved many successes over the past three decades. He called for defining an ambitious vision for the coming years.
Addressing the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit being held virtually, the Prime Minister said India and central Asian countries share the same concerns and goals with regard to regional security and were all concerned about the developments in Afghanistan.
He said the meeting aims to give an effective structure to mutual cooperation, which will pave the way for the establishment of a platform for regular interaction among all stakeholders and to prepare an ambitious roadmap for cooperation.
Presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are taking part in the summit.
Outlining the goals of the summit, the Prime Minister said the first is to make it clear that mutual cooperation between India and Central Asia is necessary for regional security and prosperity.
"I want to make it clear that Central Asia is central to India's vision of an integrated and stable neighbourhood. The second goal of today's meeting is to give an effective structure to our cooperation, which will pave the way for the establishment of a platform for regular interaction among all stakeholders. The third goal is to prepare an ambitious roadmap for our cooperation, which will enable us to adopt an integrated approach for regional connectivity and cooperation," he said.
"All of us share same concerns and goals with regard to regional security. We are all concerned about the developments in Afghanistan. In this context too, mutual cooperation among us has become more important for regional security and stability," he added.
PM Modi said that the diplomatic relations between India and Central Asian countries have completed 30 fruitful years.
"Our cooperation has achieved many successes over the past three decades. And now, at this crucial juncture, let us define an ambitious vision for the coming years as well," he said.
The Prime Minister said India has deep relations with all of the Central Asian countries and Kazakhstan has become an important partner in India's energy security.
PM Modi expressed his condolences at the recent loss of lives in Kazakhstan.
Apart from discussing regional security and the Afghanistan issue, the summit will also focus on trade, connectivity, development partnership, culture, and people-to-people ties.
The summit is also a reflection of India's growing engagement with the Central Asian countries.
Prime Minister Modi paid a historic visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015. Subsequently, there have been high-level exchanges at bilateral and multilateral forums.
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