India, Uzbekistan to step up counter-terror cooperation, fast-track uranium deal

uzbek-modiIndia and Uzbekistan, the strategically-located resource-rich country, have decided to step up their counter-terror cooperation against the backdrop of the unfolding transition in Afghanistan and to fast-track the implementation of their uranium deal.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov. The two leaders discussed a host of regional and international issues, including the current situation in Afghanistan. They underlined the importance of creating peace and stability in the country.

They also discussed ways to implement the contract, which was signed last year for the supply of 2,000 metric tonnes uranium to India from the mineral-rich Uzbekistan. In addition, they also looked to enhance cooperation in the areas of agriculture, information technology and energy, as well as further enhance connectivity between both countries.

The festering instability in Afghanistan against the backdrop of the ongoing transition figured prominently in the discussions. The two countries agreed to further intensify security cooperation and exchanges, through the bilateral Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, which is scheduled to meet later this year. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in defence and cyber security. With India’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) expected to be confirmed at the Ufa summit, the two leaders underscored that they looked forward to working together within the framework of the Eurasian grouping.

uzbek-modi1Injecting economic content into the relationship figured in the delegation-level talks. To improve the volume of trade between both countries, the two countries have decided to expand and diversify the trade basket. They have agreed to promote long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships among their business communities and called for promotion of investment cooperation between both countries.

The Uzbek side expressed its thanks to India for its assistance in training, education and development partnership. Many Uzbek specialists have been trained at specialized training centers in India under the ITEC programme.

Bound by centuries-old cultural linkages and home to stunning diversity and picturesque beauty, the two sides also focused their attention on promoting tourism.

The biggest takeaway from Mr Modi’s maiden visit to Uzbekistan, the first leg of his five-nation tour to Central Asia,  is  the increasing importance given to cooperation in security areas, which underlines the importance both countries give to rising global terror threats.

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