New Delhi: Injecting fresh momentum in ties, India and Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday firmed up broad contours of a bilateral investment agreement and inked six other pacts covering a range of areas even as they resolved to work closely to combat the challenge of terrorism, extremism and radicalism.
In their comprehensive talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev also decided to strengthen ties in areas of defence, security, mining, IT, agriculture and energy.
"We discussed how we could work together to secure our youth and society against common challenges of terrorism, extremism, and radicalism. We agreed on the need to coordinate and work closely in addressing and overcoming these challenges for our common benefit," Modi said in a media statement.
During the deliberations, the two leaders reviewed the "cooperative engagement" in defence with Modi calling the Kyrgyz-India Mountain Bio-Medical Research Centre as an excellent example of successful collaboration.
Modi said work on a Kyrgyz-India Joint Military Training Centre in Kyrgyztan has commenced. Besides joint military exercises, the two countries have been cooperating on high-mountain biomedical research to know impact on soldiers when they carry out operations at high altitude. Aiming to broaden economic engagement, the two sides initialled a bilateral investment agreement.
The six MoUs will provide for deeper cooperation in areas of agriculture, tourism, culture, broadcasting and youth affairs. A joint statement said the two leaders noted the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism globally as well as in the Asian continent, and emphasised the importance of ensuring a stable and secure environment for peaceful economic development.
"In this context, they also called for the adoption by the United Nations of the draft Comprehensive Convention on Combating International Terrorism," it said.
In his comments, Atambayev said he was not happy over the current volume of bilateral trade and that there was huge untapped potential for its expansion. Calling for further strengthening of ties, he said both countries were binded by historical links and common values like democracy and freedom of rights.
Talking about cultural links, he mentioned about popularity of Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor. On economic engagement, Modi said both sides agreed to connect each other's economies "more deeply", adding industry and businesses will be encouraged to play a leading role in exploiting the untapped opportunities.
"We will encourage industry and business on both sides to play a leading role in exploiting opportunities in healthcare, tourism, information technology, agriculture, mining and energy. "We have decided to build on our development cooperation including in capacity building and training," he said.
After the talks, Modi presented Atambayev a book of Indian poems translated into Kyrgyz while the president gifted the Indian leader a Hindi translation of Kyrgyz epic Manas. Modi called Kyrgyzstan a valuable partner in India's common pursuit of making Central Asia a region of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity, adding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will also give it a valuable framework to work together.
Referring to joint military exercise on counter- terrorism, the prime minister said it is now an annual feature and that the next edition has been planned for first quarter of next year in Kyrgyzstan. The two countries are jointly constructing the Kyrgyz-Indian Mountain Training Centre in the city of Balykchi in Kyrgyzstan.
The joint statement said the Kyrgyz side reiterated support for the rightful claim of India for permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council. On economic engagement, the two sides felt the current level of trade and investment relations is below the potential and directed the ministries concerned to develop a comprehensive road-map for a five-year timeframe. They agreed to explore new mechanisms to further strengthen economic ties. As part of discussions on the integration process in the Eurasian space, the Kyrgyz side highlighted opportunities available for Indian entrepreneurs as a result of their joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU).
Referring to India's telemedice initiative in Kyrgystan, which is its first in Central Asia, Modi said, "We are taking steps to expand this project to other regions of the Kyrgyz Republic." The two sides also reviewed progress in the work of the Joint Study Group that has been considering the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union.
The two leaders welcomed the ratification of the Paris climate pact by a number of countries, including India. The pact entered into force on November 4, 2016. "Both leaders emphasised that the Agreement should continue to be guided by the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities," the statement said.
The prime minister also credited Atambayev with nurturing and building strong foundations of democracy in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz side expressed gratitude to the Indian side for active support to the Kyrgyz Republic for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2016-2018.