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Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for closer defense and security cooperation between India and Central Asia to defend peace in the region and defeat terrorism and extremism.

In his address at the Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Modi also said that India’s engagement with Central Asia has been short of promise and potential, and added that he is determined to change it with closer cooperation.

Speaking at length on terrorism and extremism, he said: “We live at the frontier of instability. We live close to the crucible of extremism and terrorism.

“We see terrorism spawned by nations and groups. Today, we also see cyber space become a platform without borders for terror to draw recruits to its cause.

“From theatres of conflicts to the calm neighborhoods of distant cities, terrorism has become a global challenge as never before.”

Modi said India and Central Asia would combat terrorism through the “strength of our values, and our commitment to humanism”.

He said India is the new frontier of opportunities for the world, and Central Asia is a region of immense resources, talented people, rapid growth and a strategic location.

“So, I am here to start a new era in our relationship with Central Asia. India is prepared to invest more in a new partnership of prosperity,” he said.

Modi said India’s membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization will deepen the regional partnership.

“And we have begun a study on a Free Trade Agreement with them and also spoke about boosting physical connectivity for trade, transit, and energy.”

He expressed hope that all of Central Asia would become members of the International North South Transport Corridor and said that India is keen to join the Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit.

He said India’s upgradation of Iran’s Chahbahar Port would open up routes into Central Asia. “I also hope that we can restore the traditional route to Central Asia through Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

“India is at the crossroads of Asia’s land and sea routes. We understand our responsibility and we are working with a sense of priority to connect ourselves to the East and the West by land, and success of connectivity through and across Central Asia is important.”

He said both sides would work together in the sector of minerals, industry, pharma, engineering, and small and medium industries.

Modi also called for Central Asia to regain its central role in Eurasia. “From Europe to Asia, all nations must foster a climate of cooperation and collaboration, not competition and exclusion, in this region.”

“The region must remain stable and peaceful, free from conflict and the violence of extremism and terrorism,” he said.

“We will all work together to build the Silk Route of the 21st century. We will connect through space and cyber as we will by air, land and sea.”

Later, he inaugurated the India-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology.

Earlier, Modi held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov after his arrival here on Tuesday from Uzbekistan on the second leg of his Central Asian tour.

(IANS)


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