India, Uzbekistan committed to destroying terror safe havens | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

India, Uzbekistan committed to destroying terror safe havens

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha
Dec 11, 2020 05:24 PM IST

Participating in a virtual bilateral summit with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, PM Modi said the peace process in Afghanistan must preserve the achievements of the past two decades

India and Uzbekistan on Friday called for settling the conflict in Afghanistan through an Afghan-controlled process even as they committed themselves to fighting terror by destroying terrorist safe havens, infrastructure and funding channels.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(File photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(File photo)

The peace process in Afghanistan must preserve the achievements of the past two decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while participating in a virtual summit with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

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“We agree that the restoration of peace in Afghanistan requires a process that is led, owned and controlled by Afghanistan itself,” he said, speaking in Hindi. India and Uzbekistan have “similar concerns about extremism, fundamentalism and separatism” and both sides stand together against terrorism, he added in his opening remarks.

The two sides signed nine agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during the summit, including on a dollar credit line between the Export-Import Bank of India and the Uzbek government and another on digital technologies.

A joint statement issued after the summit said the two leaders believe peace and stability in Afghanistan is of “great importance to the security and stability of the entire region”. The two sides called for settling the Afghan conflict through an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process”, and expressed unanimous support for a “united, sovereign and democratic” Afghanistan.

Modi and Mirziyoyev strongly condemned all forms of terror and “reaffirmed the determination of their countries to combat this menace by destroying terrorist safe-havens, networks, infrastructure and funding channels”, the joint statement said.

In an apparent reference to terrorism emanating from Pakistan, the joint statement added: “They also underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks against other countries.”

The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation between law enforcement agencies and special services, including through the joint working group on counter-terrorism.

Modi said the bilateral security partnership is becoming a strong pillar of the relations and the first joint military exercise was held last year, while joint efforts are also increasing in space and atomic energy.

“It is also a matter of satisfaction that during this difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, both countries fully supported each other, whether it was supplying medicines or returning each other’s citizens home safely,” he said.

The joint statement added that both leaders emphasised the need for bilateral and global cooperation to continue fighting Covid-19, including development and distribution of vaccines and other medicines.

Pointing to the target of $1 billion for bilateral trade, the leaders instructed officials to fast track a joint feasibility study to pave the way for negotiations on a preferential trade agreement. They also agreed to work towards the early conclusion of a bilateral investment treaty.

The Indian side confirmed approval of lines of credit worth $448 million for four developmental projects in Uzbekistan in road construction, sewage treatment and information technology.

India sees Central Asia as part of “extended neighbourhood” and forged a strategic partnership with Uzbekistan in 2011. Shortly after beginning his first term as prime minister, Modi made back-to-back visits to all five Central Asian states in 2015.

Bilateral ties now encompass political and strategic issues, defence and security, trade and investment, energy, science and technology and people-to-people contacts. Indian officials, however, say bilateral trade worth $247 million a year is well below the potential.

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