Astana, July 8 (IANS) India and Kazakhstan on Wednesday focused on boosting trade, energy, defence and security cooperation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev here.
The two sides inked five agreements, in defence, railways and uranium supply, sports and transfer of sentenced prisoners after the talks held at the Akorda presidential palace.
In his media statement, Modi said Kazakhstan was India’s biggest economic partner in Central Asia but the economic ties have been modest. “We will work together to take economic ties to a new level.”
He said India inked a “much larger second contract” for the purchase of uranium from Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of the mineral.
On cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector, Modi said Nazarbayev “responded positively to my request to consider additional mature blocks for Indian investments”.
He also referred to the first exploratory drilling on Tuesday of the Satpayev oil block in the Caspian Sea by India’s OVL and KazMunaiGaz.
Modi said both sides agreed to give priority to investment in manufacturing and infrastructure and also boost cooperation in renewable energy. “India will participate on a large scale in the Expo 2017 in Astana.”
Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in space and information technology and also boost connectivity, including through the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan rail link and Chabahar port in Iran.
He said a new youth exchange programme was launched with six Kazakh universities for the next five years.
“Our defence and security cooperation is an important dimension of our strategic partnership. We both want to make it stronger, including in defence manufacturing. We welcome the new memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation,” Modi said.
He thanked the president for Kazakhstan’s continued support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council and for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
“I reiterated India’s support for Kazakhstan’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC for 2017-18.”
The joint statement, termed Tej Kadam, said the two leaders “noted the rising challenge posed by terrorism in many parts of the world and in their immediate region and underlined the importance of a stable and secure environment for peaceful economic development. They agreed to continue their active engagement in the fight against terrorism and extremism including exchange of information”.
“In this context, they highlighted the importance of regular inter-agency consultations and meetings of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism” and also called for early conclusion of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Both leaders welcomed the signing of an “agreement on defence and military-technical cooperation which would further widen the scope of bilateral defence cooperation including regular exchange of visits, consultations, training of military personnel, military-technical cooperation, joint exercises, special forces exchanges and cooperation in the area of UN peacekeeping operations”, it said.
They also welcomed signing of an MoU between JSC Kazxnex Invest and JSC Invest India, which includes a “roadmap” on trade, economic and investment cooperation, which would identify concrete projects in various sectors and assist in efficient implementation of projects in both the countries to activate bilateral trade and economic relations, it said.
Both leaders welcomed the establishment of a Joint Study Group between India and the Eurasian Economic Union on the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which would boost trade.
Among measures to improve surface connectivity, the leaders welcomed ongoing bilateral discussions aimed at setting up a dedicated freight terminal in one of the western sea ports of India for trade with Kazakhstan.
They hoped that these initiatives, including the International North-South Transport Corridor, will serve as the basis for enhanced economic and commercial interaction between the two countries in the days ahead.
In this connection, the parties welcomed signing of the Memorandum on Mutual Understanding on Technical Cooperation in the sphere of railways between the NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy JSC and India’s railways ministry, it said.
They noted that the visit “has made a positive contribution towards expansion of the strategic partnership between the two countries”.
Modi also invited Nazarbayev to visit India.