India-Central Asia Summit decides to set up Working Group on Afghanistan

New Delhi: In a major decision that will have a long term geo-strategic impact in Central Asia, India and major stakeholders in the region on Thursday, Jan 27, decided to set up a Working Group on Afghanistan. 

“At the first India-Central Asia Summit meeting today, the leaders agreed to continue close consultations on Afghanistan and also decided to establish a joint working group on Afghanistan at senior officials level,” Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Reenat Sandhu said.

The first India-Central Asia Summit was held in virtual mode and hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was attended by Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Ms Sandhu said, India and Central Asian countries are committed to combating the menace of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking. 

“Our security cooperation includes discussions and exchanges on all these matters,” she said. 

“The evolving situation in Afghanistan and its impact on the security and stability of the region were discussed in detail. The leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan,” Ms Sandhu said. 

The Joint counter-terrorism exercises will be held between India and interested Central Asian countries. “India will host a 100-member youth delegation from Central Asian countries every year to promote greater understanding,” said Ms Sandhu. 

Among other things it has been decided that India and Central Asian countries will commission a dictionary of common words used in India and Central Asia countries and also showcase a Buddhist exhibition in Central Asia. 

Of course, she pointed out that the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit held on Jan 27 is only a “culmination of our sustained diplomatic engagement” with all Central Asian countries in recent years. 

“An important outcome of the meeting today was the agreement among the leaders of India and Central Asian countries to hold a summit-level meeting every two years. The next summit will be held in 2024” she said. 

In his speech, PM Modi suggested preparing a roadmap for the next 30 years, focusing on connectivity and cooperation in an integrated manner. 

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