Jaishankar says huge potential for further strengthening Indo-Tajik economic cooperation

Dushanbe, Mar 31 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that there is potential for further bolstering India-Tajikistan economic cooperation after his meeting with his Tajikistan counterpart Sirojiddin Muhriddin and urged the business community on both the sides to engage more intensively with each other.

Jaishankar, who is in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, attended the 9th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday. It is his first bilateral official visit to the key Central Asian country as the Foreign Minister.

In a statement, he said that the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on Afghanistan was indeed a timely one.

President of Tajikistan Emamoli Rahmon emphasised on greater economic cooperation between our two countries, particularly in respect of investments from Indian companies in Tajikistan. This will be a focus area of our future cooperation, Jaishankar said.

The minister said that he had detailed talks with Foreign Minister Sirojiddin on all aspects of our bilateral relationship as well as issues of regional and international interest .

Sirojiddin and I shared a common view that while our bilateral strategic relations have grown and expanded over the years, there is potential for further strengthening our economic cooperation.

We would encourage the business community, the Chambers and trade bodies on both sides to engage more intensively with each other while the governments will continue to play a facilitating role, he said.

Development cooperation has also become an important pillar of bilateral relationship, Jaishankar said.

We have successfully commissioned a number of projects over the years in Tajikistan under our grant assistance including IT equipment in schools, food processing plant, engineering workshop, pharmaceutical plant, IT centres, rehabilitation and modernisation of the Varzob-1 hydroelectric power plant among others.

We are happy to be involved in the 8-laning of the Dushanbe-Chortut highway, which once completed next year, would greatly help in decongesting Dushanbe. We are also looking at more community development grant projects as well as projects in the energy and transport sectors under our Line of Credit in Tajikistan, he said.

Training and capacity building would continue to be one of the focus areas of the cooperation, the minister said.

Given our common interest in maintaining peace and security in the region, defence and security cooperation occupies a very important role in our overall cooperation matrix. I had very productive discussions in this regard with Defence Minister Colonel General Sherali Mirzo. The Indo-Tajik Friendship hospital (ITFH) continues to be one of the important symbols of our cooperation, Jaishankar said.

On the multilateral front, both the countries support each other in the UN and other multilateral fora including in the SCO, he said.

We would keep Tajikistan’s priorities in our mind during our current UN Security Council non-permanent membership, the minister said.

Among the regional issues, we also discussed Afghanistan. We share a similar outlook that a durable peace in Afghanistan would require harmonizing the interests of all, both within and around that country.

And if the peace process is to be successful, then it is necessary to ensure that the negotiating parties continue to engage in good faith with a serious commitment towards reaching a political solution. And it should be based on foundational principles to which we all subscribe. And it should be based on the foundational principles to which we all subscribe, Jaishankar said.

This year is an important year in the calendar of Tajikistan when it celebrates 30 years of its independence and holds the Presidency of the SCO in its 20th anniversary year, the minister said.

We are happy to extend our support to Tajikistan for the organization of the SCO Summit in Dushanbe. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Government and people of Tajikistan on this important milestone of its 30th year of independence.

And the fact that during these unprecedented times, we were able to supply Made in India’ vaccines to Tajikistan recently as well as medicines against COVID-19 speaks of our close partnership, he said.

The India-Tajikistan bilateral relations have been considerably strengthened over the years and the two countries look forward to further deepening the ties, he said.