Opening Remarks by the Director, Dr Arvind Gupta : Visit of Uzbek Delegation to the Vivekananda International Foundation, 27 Sep 2018

Excellency,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency Mr Sodyk Safoev, First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr Akmal Burkhanov, Director, Development Strategy Center and HE Mr IIhomjon Nematov, Ambassador at Large of the Ministry of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, H.E Mr Farhod ARZIEV, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Vivekananda International Foundation for the dialogue amongst scholars on how to expand and deepen India-Uzbek relations in the context of recent global and regional developments.

Our two countries share historical experiences and cultural ties. The relationship between our two countries are friendly. Our partnership has assumed a strategic character. We share common concerns regarding security in the region. The continuing instability in Afghanistan, the state sponsorship of terrorism, the menace of drug trafficking, terrorism, extremist and radicalization of the young people affects us equally.

The welfare of our people and raising their living standards, is a common challenge. A few days ago, Prime Minister Modi launched a health insurance scheme. It will be largest scheme in the world, covering 500 million people to providing them high quality, all round healthcare at affordable premiums. This is one of the numerous example of the measures taken in the recent past to improve the living standard of the people of our country. India and Uzbekistan can strengthen developmental partnership and exchange innovative ideas and experiences.

Regional cooperation is key to regional peace and stability. India has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and is actively participating in its activities including the counter-terrorism cooperation activities of Regional Ant-Terrorism Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent. We are also a member of Ashgabad Agreement. India is building the Chabahar port in Iran which will provide alternative connectivity to Afghanistan. The International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC) will enhance connectivity to CIS countries and Central Asia.

Defence cooperation is a new area of cooperation between our two countries. The possibilities of setting up defence manufacturing industries in Uzbekistan should be explored.

We must upgrade our relationship to include S & T and R&D cooperation. Uzbekistan and India had a high level of science and technology cooperation since during the Soviet times. Today, we have an unprecedented opportunity for cooperating in high technology areas such as space, agriculture, pharmaceutical, renewable energy, IT and cyber security.

Uzbekistan is playing an important role in bringing stability to Afghanistan. The international conference on ‘Peace Process, Cooperation in the Sphere of Security and Regional Connectivity’ held in Tashkent in Mar 2018 was an important initiative taken by Uzbekistan. India is concerned at the terror sanctuaries and safe havens in Pakistan, which breed violence and instability in Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan cannot happen unless support to these elements is stopped. We are conscious of the threat posed by the ISIS. While we cannot ignore the negative role of Taliban, supporters by Pakistan is causing instability in Afghanistan. India and Uzbekistan should coordinate their positions on Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Modi visited Uzbekistan in 2015. That was a landmark visit. In a few days’ time President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is visiting India. Since he has taken charge, Uzbekistan has stepped up engagement with many countries in the region. This has helped to make the region more conducive for dialogue and cooperation. We are keenly looking forward to his visit and confident that India-Uzbekistan ties will receive further boost after his visit. We look forward to a productive dialogue today.

Thank You.

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