What’s in the news?
- India hosted the third India-Central Asia dialogue which saw participation of the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Highlights of the Dialogue
- India and Central Asian nations share a “broad regional consensus” on Afghanistan, said a regional conference of Foreign Ministers in Delhi on Sunday that proposed the use of the India-run terminal at the Chabahar port in Iran as a route for trade.
- A joint statement issued at the end of deliberations said it was important to provide immediate humanitarian aid for Afghans.
- The Central Asia dialogue comes a month after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval hosted five counterparts from the region for a security dialogue focusing on Afghanistan.
- Ministers noted that there is a broad regional consensus on the issues related to Afghanistan, which includes formation of a truly representative and inclusive government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, central role of the UN, providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people and preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups.
- India sent a shipment of medical aid by air to Afghanistan earlier this month, but the bulk of its planned aid including 50,000 tonnes of wheat is still being discussed with Pakistan.
- While none of the countries recognise the Taliban, only Tajikistan has taken a strong stand against any bilateral contacts with the group after it took control of Afghanistan in August.
- The dialogue also discussed how to increase links in the “4 C’s” of Commerce, Capacity enhancement, Connectivity and Contacts. India-Central Asia trade is quite small at present, accounting for less than $2 billion, most of which comes from Kazakh oil exports to India.
- Given Pakistan’s block on land trade from India, the countries determined to make more use of the sea route via Chabahar, which is connected to Central Asian countries by road and rail through Iran, as well as the International North South Transit Corridor (INSTC) that goes via the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
- The dialogue also decided to explore establishing joint working groups to address issues of free movements of goods and services between India and Central Asian countries.