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India-Central Asian states to hold 1st ever joint meet on January 12-13 to discuss roadmap for strategic engagement
Jan 08, 2019

India and five Central Asian states plan to host their first joint foreign ministerial meeting in the historic city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan on January 12 and 13 to explore new areas of strategic partnership as China makes inroads into the resource-rich region. 
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to engage with her counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan at the meeting, which was conceived as India emerges as a key stakeholder in the region with its entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2017, officials from the Central Asian states informed ET. 
Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani is also expected to join the meeting, with the security situation in his country emerging as a major concern for both India and Central Asia, one of the officials said, adding that the high-level meeting will have immense symbolic significance, besides charting a collective roadmap for engagement. 
The main task is expansion of cooperation and development of contacts in the political-diplomatic, trade-economic, scientific-technological and cultural-humanitarian spheres, according to a report in Turkmenistan state-run media. 
Central Asia, largely landlocked and heavily dependent on China due to geographical contiguity, is seeking a wider Indian presence as part of its balancing strategies. India views itself as a stabiliser and security provider in the region as almost all the Cent Central Asian states seek to strengthen defence ties with New Delhi. India’s growing financial clout makes it an attractive economic power, enabling it to play a proactive role, one of the officials indicated.