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Opening Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the 3rd Meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue

December 19, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

It’s really a great pleasure to see you all and I welcome you to India for the 3rd edition of the India-Central Asia Dialogue. Your presence here is an affirmation of the relationship we have forged over the last 30 years. As is customary, the media will cover the opening remarks of all the Ministers. And I will now make my opening remarks on behalf of India and thereafter invite you in the English alphabetical order, to make your opening remarks.

Dear Colleagues,

At the outset, I would like to thank Your Excellencies for accepting my invitation. This is a very good opportunity to review both our bilateral and regional relationships and consider the challenges that we face more collectively.

Our meeting today comes amidst a rapidly changing global, economic and political situation. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an enormous setback to global health and to global economy. It has changed the way we imagined 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.

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.

I would like to express my gratitude to all of you for the great care you took to ensure the welfare of Indian students in your countries during the pandemic.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, our countries have sustained the momentum of our relations. I have had the privilege of meeting each one of you in 2021 earlier, four of you in your own capitals. We are very pleased at the state of our bilateral relations. But we know that the potential is very much more. 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.

Excellencies, we all also share deep-rooted historical and civilizational ties with Afghanistan. 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.

I once again extend a warm welcome. I am confident that our discussions today will help set the directions for the next steps in our relationship.

And I would now like to invite the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan to make his opening remarks.

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