PM Narendra Modi heads to Central Asia in bid to boost ties

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July 6, 2015

NEW DELHI: With an eye on boosting strategic, economic and energy ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel from July 6 to 13 to five Central Asian countries as well as Russia where he will attend the summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

July 6, 2015

NEW DELHI: With an eye on boosting strategic, economic and energy ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel from July 6 to 13 to five Central Asian countries as well as Russia where he will attend the summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

On top of the Prime Minister’s priority list is a pitch for India joining the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Oman-Iran transit treaty for New Delhi to get a share of Turkmenistan’s vast natural gas reserves. (ANI File Photo)

PM Modi will travel to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. He will also go to Russia where he will attend the summits of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Ufa, Russia.

"My first visit will be to Uzbekistan, which is the most populous country in Central Asia. India and Uzbekistan enjoy a close strategic partnership," Modi had said in a statement on Saturday, adding "I am confident that this visit will be a major step towards further expanding India-Uzbekistan ties."

The SCO Summit may see India getting the membership of the six-nation grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which would be a major highlight of the visit. As of now, India has only an observer status.

BRICS Summit

The BRICS Summit will focus on enhancing cooperation in economic area, including the possibility of trade in local currency.

With the BRICS Development Bank already set up, the summit could look at the possibility of starting credit facility in local currency. The first head of the bank is noted Indian banker KV Kamath.

During the bilateral talks, Modi will discuss post-2014 situation in Afghanistan following the reduction of US-led multinational troops and ways to deal with terrorism and extremism.

While PM Modi expressed confidence that it will further enhance ties with these countries, India Inc on Sunday said the visit is expected to boost strategic and economic ties with the region.

Reacting on the PM's visit, Industry body Assocham said, "Consequent to India increasing FDI up to 49 per cent in the defence production, its economic relations with Russia are expected to see a dramatic change with the prime minister's visit to the CIS countries giving an extra push to strategic ties with the region."

The PM's visit will start with Uzbekistan from where he will go to Kazakhstan on July 7. He will then travel to Russia on July 8, before moving to Turkmenistan on July 10, Kyrgyzstan on July 11 and Tajikistan on July 12.

Terming Modi's visit to Central Asia a landmark event to revitalise ancient links with the region, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimated that trade with the five Central Asian countries can grow manifold from the small base of USD 1.4 billion currently.

Stressing on the need to develop more transport corridors to connect India to the Central Asian region, the CII said priority must be given to the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline project.

It also recommended the energy sector be accorded high priority, as Kazakhstan is a significant oil producer while the other countries are estimated to have large reserves of natural gas.


Courtesy: Mail Today