In a bid to deepen strategic footprints and energy cooperation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will begin an 8-day trip crisscrossing five Central Asian nations from July 6, besides visiting Russia to attend the Brics summit from July 8 to 10. Modi will begin the visit on July 6 from Uzbekistan and will conclude it on July 13.
The visit is expected to give a roadmap for making India’s connect-Central Asia policy into a strategic action plan at a time when China is focusing more on the region and US presence in Afghanistan, adjoining many Central Asian countries, is diminishing, sources said.
Modi will visit Uzbekistan on July 6 and later Kazakhstan before travelling to the Russian city of Ufa for attending the summit of Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa (Brics). The Russian city will also host the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit this year.
There are compelling reasons for India to step up security-ties with Central Asian countries in the wake of developments like Islamic states spreading its influence in countries of the region. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an ally of the Taliban, mostly based in Pakistan, has announced its support for Islamic State.
Sources said apart from bilateral energy cooperation and security issues, there will be engagements in the regional framework for stability of Afghanistan. The Pul-e-Khumri transmission line, built by India, for transmission of power to Kabul from northern Baghlan province, is a symbol of growing India-Uzbek synergy on Afghanistan. Tajikistan is very crucial for India’s Central Asia policy, because of its strategic location. India’s only foreign military base is in Ayni in Tajikistan.
Energy cooperation will figure in a big way in Modi’s visit to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Besides nuclear energy, oil and gas, space cooperation will also figure in the discussions.