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Modi visit: India, Kazakhstan ink deals on uranium supply, defence

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Astana: India and Kazakhstan on Wednesday focused on boosting trade, energy, defence and security cooperation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev here.

The two sides inked five agreements, in defence, railways and uranium supply, sports and transfer of sentenced prisoners after the talks held at the Akorda presidential palace.

In his media statement, Modi said Kazakhstan was India’s biggest economic partner in Central Asia but the economic ties have been modest. “We will work together to take economic ties to a new level.”

He said India inked a “much larger second contract” for the purchase of uranium from Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of the mineral.

On cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector, Modi said Nazarbayev “responded positively to my request to consider additional mature blocks for Indian investments”.

He also referred to the first exploratory drilling on Tuesday of the Satpayev oil block in the Caspian Sea by India’s OVL and KazMunaiGaz.

Modi said both sides agreed to give priority to investment in manufacturing and infrastructure and also boost cooperation in renewable energy. “India will participate on a large scale in the Expo 2017 in Astana.”

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in space and information technology and also boost connectivity, including through the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan rail link and Chabahar port in Iran.

He said a new youth exchange programme was launched with six Kazakh universities for the next five years.

“Our defence and security cooperation is an important dimension of our strategic partnership. We both want to make it stronger, including in defence manufacturing. We welcome the new memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation,” Modi said.

He thanked the president for Kazakhstan’s continued support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council and for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

“I reiterated India’s support for Kazakhstan’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC for 2017-18.”

The joint statement, termed Tej Kadam, said the two leaders “noted the rising challenge posed by terrorism in many parts of the world and in their immediate region and underlined the importance of a stable and secure environment for peaceful economic development. They agreed to continue their active engagement in the fight against terrorism and extremism including exchange of information”.

“In this context, they highlighted the importance of regular inter-agency consultations and meetings of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism” and also called for early conclusion of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Both leaders welcomed the signing of an “agreement on defence and military-technical cooperation which would further widen the scope of bilateral defence cooperation including regular exchange of visits, consultations, training of military personnel, military-technical cooperation, joint exercises, special forces exchanges and cooperation in the area of UN peacekeeping operations”, it said.

They also welcomed signing of an MoU between JSC Kazxnex Invest and JSC Invest India, which includes a “roadmap” on trade, economic and investment cooperation, which would identify concrete projects in various sectors and assist in efficient implementation of projects in both the countries to activate bilateral trade and economic relations, it said.

Both leaders welcomed the establishment of a Joint Study Group between India and the Eurasian Economic Union on the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which would boost trade.

Among measures to improve surface connectivity, the leaders welcomed ongoing bilateral discussions aimed at setting up a dedicated freight terminal in one of the western sea ports of India for trade with Kazakhstan.

They hoped that these initiatives, including the International North-South Transport Corridor, will serve as the basis for enhanced economic and commercial interaction between the two countries in the days ahead.

In this connection, the parties welcomed signing of the Memorandum on Mutual Understanding on Technical Cooperation in the sphere of railways between the NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy JSC and India’s railways ministry, it said.

They noted that the visit “has made a positive contribution towards expansion of the strategic partnership between the two countries”.

Modi also invited Nazarbayev to visit India.

(IANS)

 

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)