After years of neglect, India is now gathering pace to increase its commercial and strategic ties with Central Asia. While Iran figures prominently in New Delhi’s ‘connect Central Asia’ policy, Afghanistan is also factored into the strategic calculus as it lays out plans to mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties with countries in the region.
“As this region undergoes rapid transformation, a time has come for us to evolve calibrated and coordinated responses in our engagement with each of the countries as well as the region to further secure our core national interests”, external affairs minister SM Krishna told Indian ambassadors there.
The minister urged the envoys to convert the “enormous goodwill” that exists for India “into a tangible economic and strategic advantage.”
“To overcome the connectivity problems, be it land or sea, efforts are underway to re-energise alternate sea and land routes through Iran,” the minister said.
Iran holds key to India’s plans for connecting to Afghanistan and Central Asia. India and Iran are closely working on the issue of connectivity. India has already kick started an ambitious north-south corridor that connects India’s west coast to Bandar Abbas in Iran to the border of Azerbaijan onwards to Kazakhstan, that will lead up to Russia.