Raksha Mantri (RM) Nirmala Sitharaman participated in meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries. In addition to SCO Defence Ministers meeting and joint call on Kyrgyz President, RM also met Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan where wide-ranging discussions on bilateral defence cooperation, training, capacity building, military technical cooperation and assistance to Kyrgyz Level II Field Hospital for UN deployment were held. She delivered a speech on behalf of all Defence Ministers. In meeting with Russian Defence Minister, issues of defence cooperation including military technical cooperation were discussed. In her meeting with Chinese Defence Minister, many issues including exchange of defence delegations, military training and joint training were discussed.

Kazakhstan has approached Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) for assistance in implementing start-up models at Kazakh Stock Exchange. BSE said that it can provide necessary support, training and technology in consultation with Ministry of External Affairs. Some initial talks have taken place so far. In addition, success of BSE-promoted India International Exchange at Gift City in Gujarat is also of interest to Kazakhstan. Usually, BSE provides training and other help to exchanges of other countries on friendly basis. BSE provides necessary support in consultation with Gift authorities and MEA.

Kazakhstan will increase exports of uranium to India from 5,000 tonnes at present to 7,500-10,000 tonnes for a five-year period starting 2019. Signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kazakhstan in 2015, the previous five-year agreement for uranium supply will lapse this year. Kazakhstan accounts for 80% of uranium supplies to India. Apart from this, the two nations are also in talks for a deal on joint application of nuclear science in field of medicine.

A senior Representative of Astana International Financial Centre said that it is looking at strategic partnerships and investments from India. Apart from finance, AIFC is interested in knowledge sharing; helping develop the company and improving the shareholders’ value.  

A group of 20 media persons from the five Central Asian Republics visited India under a familiarization programme from 22-29 April 2019. The visit was fully sponsored by Indian Government. Programme included their interaction with their counterparts from various media houses such as Doordarshan, ANI, and PTI, meeting with government officials from various Ministries, Ambassadors of Central Asian countries in India and various business houses. They also visited several world-famous monuments like Taj Mahal (Agra), Akshardham Temple (New Delhi), and places like Film City (Noida). The visit was another step in strengthening centuries old ties between India and Central Asia.
 
Indian Ambassador to Uzbekistan left the country on completion of his tenure. He called on Uzbek President, PM, Foreign Minister prior to his departure. 

Indian Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra met Defence Minister of Uzbekistan and discussed issues of bilateral cooperation.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan and Secretary (West), MEA, met within the framework of Foreign Office Consultations in Bishkek. Wide range of issues related to political, economic, defence & security, cultural relations and cooperation under SCO were discussed. Forthcoming high level visits of Indian Prime Minister, Defence Minister and External Affairs Minister to Kyrgyzstan were also discussed. Secretary (West) called on the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister. 

Kazakh delegation for 3rd Consultative Meeting of Security Councils of Kazakhstan and India in India was led by First Deputy Secretary of Kazakh Security Council and included representatives of National Security Committee, Ministries of Energy, Digital Development, Defense and Aerospace Industry and Foreign Affairs. Indian delegation was led by Deputy National Security Adviser. Issues of international and regional security, countering terrorist threats and illegal drug trafficking, cooperation in military-technical sphere, as well as cooperation in field of information technology, energy, space, transport, etc. were discussed during the meeting. They prepared a roadmap for further cooperation.

Iran and 12 other countries, including India, Russia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Syria, held two days of meetings in Tehran to coordinate work on the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC). A 164-kilometer rail project linking the two Iranian cities of Qazvin and Rasht was inaugurated by President Rouhani. This line fills a missing link in the INSTC. Chabahar, the Iranian port being developed by India, can handle very large and heavy ships. India’s development of Chabahar marks an important connectivity project in Eurasia. Chabahar could be the starting point of INSTC. INSTC would facilitate import by India of minerals, metals, oil and gas from Central Asia to boost its manufacturing economy.

India proposed the creation of a joint venture for maintenance and production of spare parts for Soviet and Russian-origin equipment used by both India and Kazakhstan. Both countries feel that this project presents significant possibilities to cooperate.

April 30, 2019

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About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar

Former Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia; President, Institute of Global Studies and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.