New Delhi: Uzbekistan has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with other leaders in Central Asia for an International connectivity summit on 15th-16th July. The summit is scheduled to take place in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.
The International conference, namely ‘Central Asia and South Asia regional connectivity: Challenges and opportunities’, is being organized which is the initiative of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The summit will have 3 common themes of discussion, which are Economic, Cultural, security and aims to refresh historical ties. Leaders and representatives of Russia, Iran, China, the US, and the European UNion will be invited to the summit.
The invitation to India was extended during Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov's New Delhi visit in late February. Kamilov has already visited the capitals of the other four Central Asian countries to extend the invitation. In March, Kamilov had visited Islamabad to hand over the invitation to Khan.
The summit will see a gathering of leaders from South and Central Asia and aims to increase connectivity between the two regions. This is the first such initiative of this kind from Uzbekistan, which is a doubly landlocked country. Uzbekistan, along with Liechtenstein are the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world.
Uzbekistan has been keen on using the India-built Chabahar port in Iran. Both countries formed the group with Iran for increasing engagement on the port. Afghanistan will be invited for the next meet of the grouping. During the December virtual summit between Indian PM Modi and Uzbek President Mirziyoyev, the latter announced the intention to join the International North-South Transport Corridor that connects Mumbai to Moscow.
Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country with which India has held a virtual summit so far. In strategic space and defence, both sides are increasing engagement. India and Uzbekistan held military exercises Dustlik-2 from 9th to 21st March at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand. In Afghanistan as well, both sides hold regular exchanges.
With other countries in the region, Afghanistan is increasing engagement on connectivity, especially with air corridors and the Chabahar port project backed by New Delhi. A trans-Afghan railway is being planned, with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan being part of it.