India and Uzbekistan signed 17 pacts to boost ties in key areas including defence. Indian PM Narendra Modi and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a comprehensive dialogue on various bilateral and regional issues, and as EurAsian Times reported earlier, it included Afghanistan peace process and counter-terrorism.
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India and Uzbekistan will also hold joint military training exercises in counter-terrorism and cooperate in the field of military education and medicine, a joint statement issued after the meeting between the leaders said. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen collaboration between law enforcement agencies of the two countries under the framework of the Uzbekistan-India Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, according to PTI.
The two sides signed 17 pacts in sectors of defence, agriculture, science and technology and space, among others, which was termed “historic” by the Uzbek president. Modi and Mirziyoyev also discussed regional security, including the situation in Afghanistan, and asserted that dialogue was the only way to bring peace to the war-ravaged nation.
On the defence front, the two sides agreed to work closely to expand and strengthen defence ties as well as defence industry cooperation, the joint statement said. Both sides have also called for early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. Uzbekistan will also set up a defence wing at its embassy here, the statement said.
Modi said a stable, democratic, inclusive and prosperous Afghanistan was beneficial for everyone. “The two countries have decided to have regular contact in this regard,” he said.
Mirziyoyev said the “common opinion” of the two countries was that “there is no military solution to this problem. The only way to peace is a political dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the opposition.”
As per the joint statement, the two leaders reiterated support for efforts of the government and the people for a genuine Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process that would allow for a peaceful, secure, united, inclusive and prosperous nation.
“The sides shared the view that countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations without distinction is important for sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan. They expressed continued support for the reconstruction and revival of the country. The sides agreed to have regular dialogue,” the statement said.
The two leaders also discussed connectivity in the region and agreed to explore various options to enhance surface connectivity between them. Modi thanked the Uzbek side for their support to India’s membership to the Ashgabat Agreement and expressed hopes that Uzbekistan would also join the International North-South Transport Corridor.
Mirziyoyev observed that despite the robust ties between the two sides, bilateral trade remained at USD 300 million. Modi said the two sides have decided to scale it up to USD 1 billion by 2020.
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