ArrayTashkent, (IANS) India and Uzbekistan on Monday discussed Afghanistan and the “rising threat of extremism and terrorism in the extended neighbourhood” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, on his first stop on his Central Asian tour.
Modi, who held restricted and delegational talks with Karimov, said both nations agreed to intensity security cooperation and exchanges and also defence and cyber security cooperation.
In his media statement following the talks, Modi said both sides discussed steps to implement the contract signed earlier for supply of uranium from Uzbekistan.
Both leaders also discussed initiatives to enhance connectivity.
Modi said he briefed Karimov about the International North South Transport Corridor and proposed that Uzbekistan become a member.
“I sought his support for India joining the Ashgabat Agreement” — a transport corridor that would link Central Asia to the seaports in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
He also said both countries will also seek to work in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Modi said his five-nation tour of Central Asia reflects India’s resolve to start a new era in ties with the Central Asian republics.
He said his visit to Uzbekistan underlines its importance for India, “not just in the context of this region, but also more broadly in Asia”.
“I share President Karimov’s desire to raise the level of our economic engagement. I conveyed to him that there is a strong interest in Indian business to invest in Uzbekistan. I have urged him to make the process and the policies for Indian investments here smoother. President responded positively to my suggestion,” he said.
He said the Uzbek president was supportive of strengthening ongoing cooperation in the areas of agriculture, information technology and energy.
“We also discussed regional and international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan. We also have shared concerns on the rising threat of extremism and terrorism in our extended neighbourhood,” he said.
Modi said he would be visiting the memorial of late Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on Tuesday and thanked Uzbekistan for “preserving the legacy of our former prime minster”.
He said his visit and talks were “very rewarding” and would lay the foundation for a “rich harvest in years ahead”.
Earlier, the two sides inked agreements in the field of furthering cooperation between their foreign offices and in fields of culture and tourism.
The joint statement also called for UN reforms.
Uzbekistan also reaffirmed its support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Both sides also welcomed the proposal to set up telemedicine links connecting medical institutions in Uzbekistan and India for consultations.
In the joint statement, both sides agreed to expand cooperation in transport and communications — particularly civil aviation and surface connectivity.
President Karimov noted that strengthening relations with India was one of the top foreign policy priorities of Uzbekistan.
Modi, who arrived earlier on Monday, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Kuksaroy presidential complex. He later attended a banquet dinner hosted by President Karimov.