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Krishna arrives in Tajikistan to boost central Asian ties

By Zishan Haider
July 02, 2012 19:08 IST
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Giving a push to India's 'Connect Central Asia Policy', External Affairs Minister S M Krishna arrived in Dushanbe on Monday in the Tajik capital to hold talks with the

resource-rich country's top leadership on bilateral issues such as trade, energy and counter-terrorism.

Krishna, who arrived here on a special flight for a two-day visit, was received by Tajikistan Deputy Foreign Minister Nizomiddin Zohidov at the Dushanbe International airport in Dushanbe.

The external affairs minister is scheduled to meet Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon on Tuesday and is likely to discuss cooperation in energy sector, economy and counter-terrorism besides other issues of mutual interest and on the situation in the region, officials said.

He will also meet his Tajik counterpart Hamrokhon Zarifi. Krishna's visit to Dushanbe, first by any Indian external affairs minister in nine years, is part of India's 'Connect Central Asia Policy' to tap the natural resources-rich region.

Tajikistan is rich in natural resources such as hydropower which are estimated at the level of 527 billion kWt-h, but only 3 per cent of this potential is being used.

India plans to build strong political relations with Central Asian countries through the exchange of high level visits and strengthen strategic and security cooperation including counter-terror cooperation with them. Krishna's visit is just a step in that direction, officials said.

The minister's tour also assumes significance as the strategically located Tajikistan shares borders with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. Also, a narrow strip of land separates it from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The ties between India and Tajikistan deepened in the late 1990s, when they came closer following rise of Taliban in Afghanistan. The ties has grown stronger since 2002, especially on counter-terrorism and defense co-operation.

The two countries have a joint working group on Counter-Terrorism in place. Tajikistan, which shares over 1,400 km border with Afghanistan, faces threat from Taliban-linked terror groups like Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

India is also in talks with Tajikistan to set up a military hospital even as it maintains an airbase in Ayni there, the country's only such facility overseas.
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Zishan Haider in Dushanbe
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