NEW DELHI(PTI): With focus on enhancing strategic, economic and energy ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel from July 6 to 13 to five Central Asian countries as also Russia where he will attend the summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The SCO Summit, to be held in Ufa, may see India getting the membership of the six-nation grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which would be a major highlight of the visit. As of now, India has only an observer status.
The Summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the important economies across the world, will focus discussions on enhancing cooperation in economic area, including the possibility of trade in local currency.
With the BRICS Development Bank already set up, the Summit could look at the possibility of starting credit facility in local currency. The first head of the Bank is noted Indian banker KV Kamath.
The Prime Minister’s visit will start with Uzbekistan from where he will go to Kazakhstan on July 7. He will then travel to Russia on July 8, before moving to Turkmenistan on July 10, Kyrgyzstan on July 11 and Tajikistan on July 12.
During the visit to five Central Asian nations, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to all of them together, the focus will be on enhancing trade, which is “not impressive”, and cooperation in energy and security, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry Navtej Sarna told reporters in Delhi.
An effort will be made to push the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project, which is crucial for India’s energy needs as it will carry gas from Central Asia but has been hampered because of lack of physical connectivity.
During the bilateral talks PM Modi will have with the leaders of these countries, post-2014 situation in Afghanistan following the reduction of US-led multinational troops and ways to deal with terrorism and extremism will be discussed.