EAM Jaishankar was speaking at the third India-Central Asia Dialogue

Stating that India and Central Asian countries must focus their bilateral cooperation around four Cs—Commerce, Capacity enhancement, Connectivity and Contacts, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in his opening remarks at the third India-Central Asia Dialogue on Sunday asked Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to be ready to take their bilateral relations with India to the next level.

“Each one of us today faces the test of rebuilding our economy. Our pursuit of SDGs must also be energized. But together we can do this better and India, I assure you, will be your steadfast partner. We already have a good history of cooperation. But my message to you today is a readiness to take it to the next level. Our ties must now focus around 4 Cs: Commerce, Capacity enhancement, Connectivity and Contacts,” Jaishankar said.

He said this meeting with Central Asian Foreign Ministers is taking place amidst the changing global, economic and political situation.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an enormous setback to global health and to the global economy. It has changed the way we imagine societies, workplaces, supply chains and governance. It also highlights the inadequacy of the existing multilateral structures to meet new and emerging threats. We need diversified supply chains and more regional solutions,” Jaishankar said.

He said India has been steadfast in its resolve for the fight against Covid-19.

“We have supplied vaccines to more than 90 countries including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. We have also offered the CoWIN platform to assist the vaccination programs of our friendly partners. At the same time, we deeply appreciate the support extended to us by the international community during the second Covid wave, especially from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” Jaishankar said.

Crediting it to the strength of bilateral ties between India and Central Asia, he said despite the impact of the pandemic, “our countries have sustained the momentum of our relations.”

He expressed his concern at the situation in Afghanistan, the land locked country with which India and Central Asian countries share deep-rooted historical and civilizational ties.

“Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar: a truly inclusive and representative government, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and the minorities. We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan,” the EAM said.