President Ram Nath Kovind addressing young diplomats of Turkmenistan at the Institute of International Relations in Ashgabat, on April 3, 2022
President Ram Nath Kovind addressing young diplomats of Turkmenistan at the Institute of International Relations in Ashgabat, on April 3, 2022

Connectivity with Central Asian countries remains a key priority for India: President Kovind

Ashgabat, April 3, 2022

President Ram Nath Kovind today said one of the key pillars of India's foreign policy in recent years has been the "Neighbourhood First" policy and stressed that connectivity with Central Asian countries remained a high priority for the country.

Addressing young diplomats of Turkmenistan at the Institute of International Relations in Ashgabat, during a state visit to this country, said the overarching philosophy of India’s engagement with its neighbours is to ensure that they also benefit from its economic development and growth.

"Thus, the focus of our Neighbourhood First policy is to enhance connectivity, augment trade and investment, and build a secure and stable neighbourhood," he said.

He said that while ‘Indo-Pacific’ is a recent addition to the geopolitical lexicon, India’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific region goes back several centuries. "The dynamism and vitality of the region makes it a global economic centre. We stand for an open, balanced, rules-based and stable international trade regime in the Indo-Pacific," he said.

The President said that one of the focus areas of Indian foreign policy in the last few years has been the revitalization of its historical ties with the Central Asian countries, which are a part of its "extended neighbourhood".

"As developing countries, India and Central Asian countries share common perspectives and similar approaches. We face common challenges such as terrorism, extremism, radicalization, drug trafficking etc. India has also strategic relations with most of the Central Asian countries," he said.

The President said that India is a member of both the International North-South Transport Corridor, and the Ashgabat Agreement.

"We have taken steps to operationalize the Chabahar port in Iran which can provide a secure, viable and unhindered access to the sea for the Central Asian countries," he said.

He said that while expanding connectivity, it is important to ensure that connectivity initiatives are consultative, transparent and participatory, with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. India stands ready to cooperate, invest and build connectivity in the region, he said.

Kovind said that India’s foreign policy had been constantly evolving since its independence.

"India’s emergence as one of the major economies of the world and the relevance of India’s technological capabilities has shaped key global negotiations. India’s partnerships with countries of the Global South have grown substantially while its relations with major powers have deepened further," he said.

Speaking about ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the President said that India’s position on this issue has been steadfast and consistent.

"We have emphasized that the current global order is anchored in international law, UN Charter, and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of states. We are deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation. We have called for immediate cessation of violence and hostilities and return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy. We have also provided humanitarian assistance to Ukraine," he said.

The President said that the United Nations remains the most universal and representative international organization. "At the core of India’s call for reformed multilateralism lies the reform of the UN Security Council, to reflect the contemporary realities. In this context, India values the support of Turkmenistan for our permanent membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council," he said.

The President said that as Turkmenistan marches ahead in the "Era of people with Arkadag", India, as a longstanding friend, stands ready to partner with it to realize the collective dreams of our people. He expressed hope that his visit to Turkmenistan would impart a new momentum to further promote partnership between the two countries.

The President also inaugurated an "India Corner" at the Institute of International Relations on the occasion. The India Corner is envisioned to create interest in India amongst the students of the Institute in organizing India related activities. The Government of India has provided computers, books on India and musical instruments and other materials to equip the India Corner.

Earlier in the day, the President visited People’s Memorial Complex in Ashgabat and laid a wreath at the Monument of Eternal Glory. He also visited the Bagtyyarlyk Sports Complex where he offered floral tributes in front of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi and witnessed the Yoga demonstration by Turkmen people under the supervision of Indian instructor.

President Kovind will leave tomorrow morning for the Netherlands on the second and final leg of his two-nation tour.

IANS

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