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India, Tajikistan to hold wide ranging talks on terror, trade

Dushanbe: Vice President Hamid Ansari will hold high-level talks with top Tajik leadership today during which the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan and trade ties are likely to top the agenda.

The two countries will also discuss ways to boost trade ties, cooperation in capacity building in areas of information technology enabled services and entrepreneurship development during the wide-ranging talks.

"One area of common interest between two of us and of high priority is the problem of terrorism emanating from the territory between us and them – which means Pakistan and Afghanistan. Tajikistan has enormous interest in the stability of Afghanistan. We have the same kind of interests, same kind of concerns," Ansari said yesterday.

The Vice President will hold individual meetings with Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov, Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sharif Rahimzode, Defence Minister Colonel General Sherali Khayrulloev and Chairman of Upper House of Tajik bicameral Parliament Shukurjon Zuhurov.

Ansari, who is on a four-day goodwill visit to Tajikistan, is the first Indian Vice-President to ever come to the central Asian country.

Both the countries share "close and cordial" relations for over 21 years since Tajikistan's independence following dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Tajikistan has immense geo-strategic significance to India due to its borders with China (520-km), Afghanistan (1,420 km) and the Afghan-Wakhan corridor (16-km), which is the least distance between Tajikistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, acording to an Indian diplomat.

Diplomatic relations between the two nations were established in 1992.

In May 1994, India opened its diplomatic mission in Dushanbe and Tajikistan opened its embassy in New Delhi in June 2003.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Tajikistan in 2003. Former President Pratibha Patil had paid a visit to the central Asian nation in September 2009.

Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon has been a frequent visitor to India. He has visited India five times – 1995, 1999, 2001, 2006 and in September 2012.

During the last visit by Rahmon, both sides had inked six pacts in several areas including business and trade, health, culture, sports and education.

During this visit, both the countries had elevated their bilateral relationship to the level of strategic partnership.

Ansari's visit is a part of India's connect Central Asia policy, unveiled last year, aimed at greater political, economic and people-to-people engagement with Central Asian nations like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

There will also be talks on opening up of a trans-Afghan corridor to facilitate easy access to trade to and from the land-locked country.

The bilateral trade has been very low due to the transportation difficulty. As on 2012-13 (April-December), total bilateral trade was around USD 34.16 million with roughly 30 per cent imports and 70 per cent exports.

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