India and Uzbekistan are set to route their trade through the Iranian port of Chabahar as part of New Delhi’s growing engagement with resource-rich Central Asia.
Briefing the media on Saturday, Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said that during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the summit of the eight-nation Shanghai cooperation Organisation (SCO), the two leaders hoped to supplement their connectivity through the Chabahar port with the establishment of industrial parks and an investment zone in Uzbekistan.
Uzbek Deputy PM coming to India
Mr. Gokhale said that Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister would be visiting New Delhi shortly to work out details and prepare for Mr. Mirziyoyev’s visit to India later this year.
India, Iran and Afghanistan have partnered the establishment of the International Transport and Transit Corridor, which can connect landlocked Central Asia and Afghanistan with the Chabahar port in the Arabian Sea. The Chabahar port is a short distance from Pakistan’s port of Gwadar, which has been developed by China.
Modi-Rouhani ‘pull-aside’ meeting
On Sunday Mr. Modi is expected hold a “pull-aside” meeting with Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran — a country that has stepped its diplomatic engagement with the emerging economies of India, China and Russia, as well as the European Union (EU) to counter a slew of sanctions from the United States, which has walked out of the Iran nuclear deal.
India is a large importer of Iranian oil, but hard currency payments are now likely to be impeded on account of the Trump administration’s unilateral move.
On Saturday, Mr. Rouhani met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO. Iran’s Press TV quoted Mr. Rouhani as saying that Moscow plays a key role in salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran.
“After the US unilateral and illegal exit, Moscow has an important role in the reinforcement of the JCPOA and fulfillment of the opposite sides’ commitments,” Mr. Rouhani said, referring to Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the official name of the Iran nuclear deal.
India keen on Central Asian ties
Official sources say that India has gone the extra mile to engage with the four Central Asian Republics at the ongoing SCO summit, highlighting the critical importance of this resource rich region in shaping Eurasia.
Mr. Modi on Saturday followed up his meeting with the Uzbek President with a 10 pm engagement with President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
“We wanted to convey the message to leaders of Central Asia that we value their partnership greatly, while expanding our engagement with China and Russia, within the SCO family,” and official source told The Hindu.
Mr. Modi on Sunday also met Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the President of Kyrghyzstan, which is the next chair of the SCO.
Growing thaw in India-China relations
In talks between Mr. Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, the two leaders agreed to move forward on a “capacity- building” project in Afghanistan, as a follow up to their decision taken during the Wuhan informal summit that New Delhi and Beijing should work together on an economic undertaking on Afghan soil.
On the economic track, Mr. Xi proposed that the trade between the two countries should reach $100 billion by 2020. In view of India’s adverse balance of trade, the Chinese side agreed to import non-Basmati rice and sugar from India. Apart from agricultural products, Mr. Xi said that he would encourage Indian companies to export high quality pharmaceutical products to China.
India to expand “financial cooperation”
Mr. Modi expressed India’s readiness to expand “financial cooperation” with China by establishing a branch of Bank of China in Mumbai.
The Prime Minster and Mr. Xi also agreed to substantiate their understanding reached in Wuhan to expand people-to-contacts by establishing a new mechanism that will look at strengthening soft-power exchanges between the two countries. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart and state councilor, Wang Yi, will head the new institution that will explore possibilities of deepening cultural exchanges, including films. The first meeting of the new body will take place later this year.
By: The Hindu
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