India and Uzbekistan have agreed to boost cooperation in fighting terrorism and in the field of defence and cyber security as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, on his first stop on his Central Asian tour on 6 June.
Modi and Karimov also discussed ways to boost connectivity and trade on uranium supplies to India.
The joint statement issued after the talks said “President Karimov noted that strengthening relations with India is one of the top foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan, while Modi emphasised that a strong strategic partnership between India and Uzbekistan is a key pillar of India’s engagement with Central Asia”.
In his media statement following the talks, Modi said both sides discussed steps to implement the contract signed earlier for supply of uranium from Uzbekistan.
Modi said he briefed Karimov about the International North South Transport Corridor and proposed that Uzbekistan become a member.
“I sought his support for India joining the Ashgabat Agreement” – a transport corridor that would link Central Asia to the seaports in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
He also said both countries will also seek to work in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Modi said his five-nation tour of Central Asia reflects India’s resolve to start a new era in ties with the Central Asian republics.
He said his visit to Uzbekistan underlines its importance for India, “not just in the context of this region, but also more broadly in Asia”.
“I share President Karimov’s desire to raise the level of our economic engagement. I conveyed to him that there is a strong interest in Indian business to invest in Uzbekistan. I have urged him to make the process and the policies for Indian investments here smoother. President responded positively to my suggestion,” he said.
He said the Uzbek president was supportive of strengthening ongoing cooperation in the areas of agriculture, information technology and energy.
“We also discussed regional and international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan. We also have shared concerns on the rising threat of extremism and terrorism in our extended neighbourhood,” he said.
He said he would be visiting the memorial of late Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on Tuesday and thanked Uzbekistan for “preserving the legacy of our former prime minister”.
He said his visit and talks were “very rewarding” and would lay the foundation for a “rich harvest in years ahead”.
Earlier, the two sides inked agreements for furthering cooperation between their foreign offices and in the fields of culture and tourism.
On security cooperation, the joint statement said both sides expressed their intention to strengthen coordination between the law enforcement agencies and special services of the two countries, including under the framework of the Uzbekistan-India Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. They also agreed to expand cooperation in the fields of defence and cyber-security.
The joint statement calls for UN reforms. Uzbekistan also reaffirmed its support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UNSC.
Both sides also welcomed the proposal to set up telemedicine links connecting medical institutions in Uzbekistan and India for consultations.
In the joint statement, both sides agreed to expand cooperation in transport and communications – particularly civil aviation and surface connectivity.
In the joint statement, President Karimov noted that strengthening relations with India is one of the top foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan.
Modi, who arrived earlier in the day, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Kuksaroy presidential complex.
He later attended a banquet dinner hosted by President Karimov.
In his banquet address, Modi spoke of the age old cultural links between the two countries.
“We have enriched each other in the past but now we are building a relationship that will give out people a prosperous future,” he said.