India eyes strategic toehold in Kyrgyzstan | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India eyes strategic toehold in Kyrgyzstan

delhi Updated: Jul 05, 2011 22:27 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times
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India has concluded talks with Kyrgyzstan to train its forces for UN missions, a move that could give New Delhi a strategic toehold in the only country that hosts both American and Russian military bases.

India will dispatch a training team to Kyrgyzstan by July-end which will also help Kyrgyz soldiers hone their English skills, as part of an overarching plan to step up defence cooperation with the Central Asian nation, bordering China.

“India has offered assistance to Kyrgyzstan to strengthen its defence and security capabilities. The training team is the first step,” said an official, part of a high-level delegation led by defence minister AK Antony currently in Bishkek — the Kyrgyz capital.

Antony, who held talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart Maj Gen Abibilla Kudayberdiev, said the current level of military engagement with Kyrgyzstan was “rather limited,” but there was scope to expand it to “military training, defence research and development and production of armaments.” Antony, who began his three-day tour on Monday, also offered Kyrgyzstan joint research and development with the Defence Research and Development Organisation in non-defence sectors such as physiology, medicine, animal husbandry and nutrition.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in the former Soviet Union.

Kyrgyz president Roza Otunbayeva and Antony on Tuesday inaugurated the Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Biomedical Research Centre in Bishkek for which New Delhi forked out Rs 6 crore.