Sushma Swaraj to go on Central Asian tour

New Delhi: As India continues to boost its ties with Central Asia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan from August 2 to 5, it was announced on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, Sushma Swaraj will be in Kazakhstan on August 2-3, in the Kyrgyz Republic on August 3-4 and in Uzbekistan on August 4-5.

In Astana, Kazakhstan, she will hold a bilateral meeting with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, call on the leadership of the country and interact with the Indian community there.

“India and Kazakhstan have strategic partnership and multi faceted relations that have been strengthened by the visits of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi to Kazakhstan in 2015 and 2017,” the statement said.

“There have been also meetings on the margins of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summits keeping momentum in the growth of bilateral relations,” it said.

The SCO is a Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism. India and Pakistan were granted full membership of the bloc in June last year.

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sushma Swaraj will meet Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev, call on the country’s leadership and interact with the Indian community.

According to the ministry statement, India and Kazakhstan “have strategic partnership and multi faceted relations” that have been strengthened by the visits of Prime Minister Modi to Kazakhstan in 2015 and 2017.

On the third and last leg of her visit, Sushma Swaraj will arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on August 4 and hold in-depth discussions with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov.

She will also call on the country’s leadership, interact with Indologists and the Indian community there.

Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Uzbekistan comes in the wake of Modi’s visits in July 2015 and June 2016 which saw intense interactions between the two sides.

“The visit to the three Central Asian countries is in line with India’s enhanced engagement with this region which is India’s extended neighbourhood,” the ministry statement said.

“It will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and advance our growing engagement with the Central Asian region,” it added.