Mangaluru: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned from his six-day, three-nation tour to criticism from the Opposition for his frequent travels abroad, sources tell, the Prime Minister will be travelling soon again, to Bangladesh in June 2015, and to Russia and five central Asian states — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — in July 2015. Officials said details were being worked out for both trips.
Bangladesh is part of the PM’s neighbourhood initiative, and comes after his visits to Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean islands in the past year. He is expected to travel to Dhaka from June 8 to 10, and will sign the recently ratified Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement. In July his visit to six nations will take place around the BRICS and SCO summits to be held in the Russian city of Ufa from July 9 to 10.
The Prime Minister is expected to break up the tour of the “Stans”, as the former Soviet republics in central Asia are known, visiting two countries before his visit to Ufa, and the three remaining ones after. Diplomatic sources said the Prime Minister’s visit to the 5 states, which was last done by PM Nehru in June 1955, will have a three-fold focus: energy, exports, and as a counterpoint to China’s inroads in the region. Between them, the five states control the most energy-diverse and oil-rich parts of the world, with Kazakhstan a major oil producer, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with the biggest natural gas reserves, and Tajikistan and Kyrgyztan understood to have considerable untapped reserves.
While Nehru covered the states during a visit to Russia by train in about 10 days, PM Modi is expected to spend about three days traversing through these areas. His visit will come after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2013 visit to all five “Stans” when he announced billions of dollars in loans to the countries to build energy and transport infrastructure, as well as a year after Russia and China announced a $400 billion gas pipeline that would cover all the central Asian countries in between.