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New Delhi, March 5, 2013
India and Kazakhstan today decided to strengthen their strategic partnership with new initiatives to boost their trade and economic ties.
At talks between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and visiting Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov, the two sides reviewed all aspects of their bilateral relationship, which now encompasses a number of strategic sectors including defence, civil nuclear energy and hydrocarbons, and agreed to explore possibilities of creating direct trade and energy corridors between the two countries.
"We also discussed various regional and international issues of mutual interest," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said at a joint media interaction with Mr Idrissov.
"We hold similar views on most pressing global problems. We agreed that the menace of international terrorism has to be fought by the international community collectively and that we must also make bilateral efforts in this direction," he said.
Mr Khurshid said he and Mr Idrissov expressed satisfaction over the progress in the trade and investment relations between the two countries.
"Our trade is reported to have crossed the half billion dollar mark for the first time last year. We also have a number of significant investment projects in the pipeline, in both countries. We agreed to explore possibilities of creating direct trade and energy corridors between our countries. We hope to also have enhanced air connectivity with airlines from Kazakhstan and India soon having upto 14 flights a week to destinations in each of our countries," he said.
Mr Khurshid noted that Mr Idrissov had started his diplomatic career in New Delhi as a member of the then Embassy of the Soviet Union.
"As you know, India’s relations with Kazakhstan have always been warm and friendly. In the last few years, we have had several important exchanges at the levels of our leaders. In 2009, during the visit of the President of Kazakhstan to India as Chief Guest to our Republic Day, we declared a ‘Strategic Partnership’ that we have been nurturing since. Our Prime Minister visited Kazakhstan in 2011 on a visit which further strengthened the strategic partnership. We signed a ‘Joint Action Plan’ defining the roadmap till 2014, of various bilateral projects and we had the opportunity today to review the very constructive progress along this road map," he said.
Describing today's meeting as "very fruitful", Mr Khurshid said the two sides also discussed various regional and international issues of mutual interest.
"We reviewed our growing cooperation in the energy sector. Our company ONGC Videsh Limited has already acquired a 25% stake in the Satpayev Oil Block in the Caspian Sea, based on agreements that were reached when our Prime Minister visited Kazakhstan. We also explored further possibilities of cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector. We requested the support of the Government of Kazakhstan for an important bid that OVL is making for a stake in the Kashagan oil field," he said.
Mr Khurshid said the two countries had strong links in the educational and cultural spheres. Collaboration in the field of Information Technology is of special interest to Kazakhstan.
India is setting up an IT Centre of Excellence at the Eurasian University in Astana, which will be equipped with a super computer. The first batch of trainees from the Eurasian University have begun training in India last month.
Mr Khurshid also informed Mr Idrissov that India would set up a Central Asia e-network as part of its ‘Connect Central Asia Policy’, which would bring tele-education and tele-medicine to the people of Kazakhstan.
Mr Khurshid is due to travel to Kazakhstan soon for the Istanbul process and later once again for bilateral talks.