PM holds talks with Uzbek Prez; terror, Afghanistan discussed

Tashkent: India and Uzbekistan today decided to boost ties in key areas of atomic energy, defence and trade during “productive” talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbek President Islam Karimov as they also shared concerns over rise in terrorism in their “extended neighbourhood”.

After the talks between Modi, who arrived here in the Uzbek capital on the first leg of his eight-day visit to Central Asia and Russia, and Karimov, the two countries inked three pacts to boost cooperation between their foreign offices and in the field of culture and tourism.

During the talks, Modi and Karimov discussed ways to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties apart from reviewing key regional issues including the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.

Addressing a joint press event with Karimov, Modi said,”I have begun my journey in Uzbekistan underlining its importance for India, not just in this region, but also in Asia.

President Karimov and I discussed various initiatives to further enhance connectivity between India and Uzbekistan.”

On their discussions on regional and international issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, Modi said,”We also have shared concerns on the rising threat of extremism and terrorism in our extended neighbourhood.

“We agreed to intensify security cooperation and exchanges. The bilateral Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism will meet later this year. We also agreed to strengthen cooperation in defence and cyber security.”

He said his discussions with President Karimov were “very productive” and aimed towards further deepening of ties.

Noting that the two countries have built a strategic partnership, Modi said, “This includes expanding economic cooperation, combating terrorism, advancing stability in the region and promoting regional integration.”

The two leaders also discussed ways to implement the contract for supply of uranium from mineral-rich Uzbekistan signed last year. The pact was signed for supply of 2,000 metric tonnes of the yellow cake.

They also explored various initiatives to further enhance connectivity between the two countries and in this context, Modi briefed Karimov about the International North South Transport Corridor and proposed that Uzbekistan consider becoming a member. The Prime Minister also sought Uzbek President’s support for India joining the Ashgabat Agreement.