PM Modi to host India-Central Asia Summit on January 27

The external affairs ministry said the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will participate in the virtual summit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the first India-Central Asia summit in a virtual format on January 27 as part of the country’s engagement with the extended neighbourhood. (AP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the first India-Central Asia summit in a virtual format on January 27 as part of the country’s engagement with the extended neighbourhood. (AP)
Updated on Jan 20, 2022 05:19 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

India on Wednesday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the first India-Central Asia summit in a virtual format on January 27 as part of the country’s engagement with the extended neighbourhood.

The development follows the government’s decision to go ahead with Republic Day celebrations on January 26 without any foreign leader as chief guest because of a surge in Covid-19 infections. Earlier, the Indian side had invited the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to be chief guests, though no formal announcement was made by any of the countries.

The external affairs ministry said the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will participate in the virtual summit, described as the “first engagement of its kind between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders.”

The summit reflects New Delhi’s growing engagement with the Central Asian states, part of India’s “extended neighbourhood”, and is symbolic of the importance attached by leaders of India and Central Asia to a comprehensive and enduring partnership, the ministry said.

At the summit, the leaders are expected to discuss steps to take India-Central Asia relations to newer heights, and exchange views on regional and international issues, “especially the evolving regional security situation,” the ministry added.

Modi had visited all the Central Asian states in 2015, and there have been exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forums. The India-Central Asia Dialogue at the level of foreign ministers, the third meeting of which was held in New Delhi in December, has given impetus to relations between the two sides.

“The participation of the secretaries of National Security Councils of Central Asian countries in the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held in New Delhi on 10 November 2021 outlined a common regional approach on Afghanistan,” the external affairs ministry said.

This is the second year in a row that the Republic Day celebrations have been affected by the fallout of the pandemic. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the past few weeks and recent violent protests in Kazakhstan, which resulted in the death of over 220 people, were factors that went against the participation of the Central Asian leaders, said people familiar with the matter.

Last year, India went ahead with truncated Republic Day celebrations without a chief guest after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off his visit at the last minute because of the rapid spread of a Covid strain in Britain. It is extremely rare for the Republic Day celebrations, seen as a high point in the country’s diplomatic calendar, not to have a chief guest.

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Sunday, June 26, 2022