New Delhi: Stating that they live in an extended neighbourhood that continues to face multiple security challenges, India and Tajikistan on Saturday decided to strengthen defence cooperation and inked a pact to share financial intelligence to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The pact was among three signed by the two countries after comprehensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on strategic issues including threats posed by radicalisation and extremism, trade and investments.
"We assessed the broad progress achieved under different pillars of our bilateral engagement, including our partnership in defence and security.
"India and Tajikistan live in an extended neighbourhood that continues to face multiple security challenges and threats. The threat from terrorism endangers not just our two countries. It casts a long shadow of violence and instability over the entire region," Modi said at a joint press meet with Rahmon. Combating terrorism has, therefore, been an important area of cooperative engagement between the two countries, the PM said. "We appreciate Tajikistan's role in the Central Asian region as a mainstay against forces of extremism, radicalism, and terrorism. President Rahmon and I agreed today to strengthen action on this front based on mutually agreed priorities," he said.
On his part, Rahmon said terrorism and extremism undermine all developmental efforts worldwide. A joint statement issued after the talks said the two leaders discussed situation in the region and stressed that terrorism and extremism seriously threaten peace, stability and progress of all countries.
"The two leaders agreed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations must be eliminated without any distinction between good and bad terrorists and called for an end to sponsorship, support and provision of safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists," the statement said.
Modi and Rahmon reaffirmed their resolve to work for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN General Assembly. Apart from MoU concerning Cooperation in the Exchange of Financial Intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and financing of terrorism, the two sides also inked pacts on broadcasting of audio visual programmes and protocol amending the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion and announced initialling of document on Bilateral Investment Treaty.
On further deepening of security cooperation, the prime minister said this will be done on multiple levels - through reinforcing overall bilateral security cooperation, through greater training, capacity building and information exchanges and through active coordination in regional and multilateral contexts. India's membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will also be a valuable platform to work closely on regional security and counter-terrorism efforts with Tajikistan, he said.
Describing Tajikistan as "valued friend and strategic partner in Asia", Modi said they have also agreed on the need to increase the scope and scale of our economic engagement, especially trade and investment traffic including in hydel- power and Information Technology. Agreeing that peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan are important for the region, the two countries are joined in steadfast support of the Afghan people and their aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous nation, he added.
Asserting that pharmaceuticals and healthcare would be areas of priority action, Modi said they shared the view that enhanced surface connectivity is crucial to realise the promise of our economic partnership for the benefit of our countries.
"India supports initiatives to develop the existing port and transport infrastructure and connecting it through road and rail network to Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia.
"In this respect, we will work to build trade and transit links through Chahbahar port in Iran. India is also engaged in facilitating the International North South Transport Corridor with other members, including Tajikistan. Our planned accession to the Ashgabat Agreement will further help in linking us to Tajikistan and Central Asia," the prime minister said.
The joint statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Rahmon agreed to celebrate the 25th year of establishment of diplomatic relations next year in a befitting manner through festivals, cultural events, conferences and other means of mutual interaction.
They also called for greater exchanges of films, TV programmes and other cultural creations between the peoples of the two countries. Modi and Rahmon expressed satisfaction at the excellent cooperation between the two countries on multilateral and international forums including at the UN with the visiting dignitary reiterating support of Tajikistan to India's candidature for permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council. President Rahmon thanked India for co-sponsoring resolution strongly moved by Tajikistan for declaration of years 2018-28 as 'International Decade of Action: Water for Sustainable Development'.