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North South Transport Corridor pivotal in developing Asia-Central Asia connectivity

New Delhi, Mon, 16 Jan 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Jan 16 (ANI): Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), on Monday said the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could play a pivotal role in developing practical policy options to improve connectivity in the region.


"India should go beyond energy and aim to enhance the economic content of its relationship with the Central Asian Republics. Agriculture, Human resources, Science and Technology, Pharma and IT can be important drivers of economic growth in the region," said Singh, while addressing the inaugural session of the International conference on India and Eurasia, covering "Energy, Transportation and Economic Links with Eurasia in the context of ongoing and new initiatives at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on Monday.


Highlighting connectivity as a major factor in India's engagement with Central Asia and Eurasia, he briefed the audience about India's aims to achieve long term energy partnership with the Central Asian region.


"Countries of the region must aim to attain the full potential of INSTC," he added.


The Director General of IDSA, Dr Arvind Gupta, welcoming the guests earlier noted that Eurasia has been described as the "heartland" and a "pivot" of the world in geopolitical terms, and said that Central Asia is endowed with significant amount of natural resources and given its location, a number of countries have developed major interest in the region.


"In light of its consistent economic growth and increased regional and global profile, India now has the opportunity to engage more deeply with Central Asia," added Dr Gupta.


Ajay Bisaria, Joint Secretary, (Eurasia), who also spoke on the occasion outlined economic and political challenges for India in the coming years.


Deepening energy partnerships, stepping up economic linkages, extending cooperation in other fields, addressing common security challenges, adopting a multilateral approach for collective advantage, and building ties between the younger leadership were some of them.


India and Central Asia were closely connected from Sakan, Grecian and Kushan times. The division of the subcontinent in 1947 attenuated India's links with Central Asia. Due to lack of physical connectivity and low levels of bilateral trade and investments and people-to-people contacts - India's engagement with Eurasia, the Central Asian countries and Mongolia was constrained.


However, keeping in mind the current geopolitical significance of Eurasia, especially with the discovery of large oil and gas fields, India needs to develop its relations with Central Asia in a more constructive way.


As a result, India is now increasing bilateral cooperation with countries in the region - in hydrocarbons and energy, including civil nuclear energy and uranium supply, transport and energy pipelines connectivity, space research, economic, military, education, information technology, as also in countering common security threats like religious extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking.


A special session was devoted to the situation in Afghanistan. It was underlined that a national and regional consensus is necessary for ending the strife in Afghanistan. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan could link up with South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia, it was concluded.


It was emphasised that Private Sectors in India and Russia should be encouraged to come together to tap the vast economic and trade potential of the two countries.


The participants discussed at length, Iran's crucial role in connecting the R\Iranian ports with Central Asia and Russia. Iran, it was stated, welcomes Investment in improving INSTC and the Shahid Razzai Port at Bandar Abbas.


Leading experts from all Central Asian Republics, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, the EU, China, Turkey, Iran, the US and international organizations like the ADB/ESCAP are participating in the conference.he conference will conclude on Tuesday. (ANI)


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