Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev co-chaired a Virtual Summit between India and Uzbekistan. This was the first such summit with any central Asian country. Both leaders held an in-depth exchange of views on the bilateral relations, the COVID-19 pandemic and regional and global issues of mutual interest. They expressed their continued commitment to take India-Uzbekistan strategic partnership to a new and higher level.
Both leaders appreciated their meetings before the latest Summit and believe that those meetings have further strengthened cooperation between New Delhi and Tashkent in diverse sectors such as political, trade and investment, defence, security, counter-terrorism, science and technology, nuclear energy, space, Information Technology and have promoted cultural and academic linkages.
The National Coordination Committee meeting at the ministerial level held in August has helped in monitoring the implementation of various bilateral projects and agreements for timely and effective outcomes. Prime Minister Modi and President Mirziyoyev took stock of the Covid-19 pandemic in both countries. Both leaders agreed on the need for bilateral and global cooperation to continue the fight against the pandemic. Uzbekistan President thanked the Indian Prime Minister for the assistance the country received during the pandemic. India, in return, has reiterated its commitment for further assistance to Uzbekistan.
In the economic sector, the two leaders agreed that full trade potential between the two countries is yet to be tapped. Tapping it will help in achieving the US$ $1 billion trade target the two countries have made.
The two leaders agreed to work towards the completing the Bilateral Investment Treaty that would help in investment promotion and protection for further improvement of trade and economic cooperation. To accelerate the progress in trade and investment sector, emphasis was put on direct contacts between the Indian states and the regions of Uzbekistan and between the various chambers of commerce and industry. India approved a Line of Credit of US$ 448 million to Uzbekistan to which Tashkent has expressed its commitment for using the credit effectively. The focus that has been given to the economic sector should help in achieving the target of US$ 1 billion.During the Summit, the leaders also touched upon the further development of the Chabahar Port (in Iran) which will be important for the two countries and the region. Tashkent proposed a trilateral Summit between the two countries and Iran for the promotion of better connectivity through the Chabahar port.
India extended the invitation to Uzbekistan to join the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which is also important development. Both leaders also discussed the importance of combating terrorism. They underlined the need for every country to ensure that its territory is not used for launching terrorist attacks against other countries. Both sides called for an early finalization of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
On Afghanistan, both sides agreed that for the settlement of the Afghan conflict on the principle of Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process is important. India and Uzbekistan expressed unanimity in their support for a united, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan. They expressed mutual interest in strengthening the economic development of Afghanistan. Towards this, the successful holding of the 2nd India-Central Asia Dialogue at the level of Foreign Ministers with the participation of Afghanistan is significant.
Apart from the regional issues, Prime Minister Modi and President Mirziyoyev also discussed the reformation of the United Nations and agreed on reformed multilateralism. Tashkent reiterated its support to India’s candidature in the UN Security Council. The two leaders also discussed the successful hosting of the Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government of Shanghai Cooperation Organization by India last month. Overall, the virtual Summit was very successful. The relationship between India and Uzbekistan has been in an upward swing. Both countries are important bilaterally as well as at the regional and global level.
Script: Dr. INDRANI TALUKDAR, Strategic Analyst on Russia & Central Asia