India and China discussed counter-terrorism and energy security-related issues in Central Asia in the first ever official bilateral talks on the region held here earlier this week.
The talks opened the possibility of further cooperation between New Delhi and Beijing as both countries had a “very similar” approach to the natural resources-rich region.
“The sides discussed the situation in Central Asia, focusing on the very similar Indian and Chinese approached to political and economic relationships with Central Asian countries,” a statement from the Indian Embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.
The talks were held days before a two-member delegation from China is headed to New Delhi to discuss issues related to Afghanistan, especially the possible aftermath of NATO forces leaving the war-torn country.
“They had a conversation on specific issues like regional security and counter-terrorism, SCO, energy security, development partnerships, and people-to-people contacts with the countries of the region,” the statement added about the dialogue on Central Asia.
Joint secretaries Ajay Bisaria, Eurasia Division, and Prabhat Kumar, Energy Security, from the Ministry of External Affairs had discussions with Zhang Hanhui, Director General, Department of European-Central Asian Affairs.
The Indian delegation called on Cheng Guoping, the Vice Foreign Minister, and discussed the similarity of Indian and Chinese interests in Central Asia, the statement said.
The Chinese side briefed the Indian delegation on China’s vision of its relations with Central Asia while the Indian side described details of India’s “Connect Central Asia” policy.
“Both India and China are in the neighbourhood of Central Asia and have established close political and economic ties with the countries of the region. Both countries stated that strong relationships with the countries of the Central Asia region were an important priority in their foreign policy,” the statement said.
It added that the dialogue reflected the growing engagement between the foreign offices of India and China and comes after similar comprehensive dialogues on Africa, West Asia, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism issues.
The Indian delegation interacted with scholars at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) in Beijing.