WION New Delhi, Delhi, India
Jan 22, 2019, 08.06 PM
Uzbekistan seems to be becoming India's launch pad to Central Asia. The president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been to India twice in the last four months. First on a state visit in September last year and then last week for Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar.
Our principal diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal spoke to Uzbek Ambassador Farhod Arziev on a range of issues from Chabahar, Afghanistan to India-Uzbek trade relations.
WION: How do you see connectivity between the two countries?
Farhod Arziev: I would like to inform you just before the visit of President, we have hosted important event India Central Asia dialogues at the level of foreign ministers in which foreign minister of Afghanistan also participated.
For the first time, such format was created and the meeting took place in Samarkand. And foreign ministers of central Asia, India and Afghanistan participated. One of the key items of discussion was to expand areas of connectivity between India and central Asia and use transit potential of Afghanistan.
So now, discussion among the parties, among Central Asia and India is going on to increase the connectivity opportunities which will create new corridors between Uzbekistan, central Asia and India. We see great transit potential of Afghanistan in this regard. And we believe, this will have practical implication and it will be beneficial for all parties.
WION: How do you see the role of Chabahar port?
Farhod Arziev: Uzbekistan is not only landlocked but double landlocked. Any projects that can help Uzbekistan to reach the international market we see positively. The projects like Chabahar creates an opportunity for central Asia. We believe it will play a very important practical role in expanding trade and economic relations.
WION: How do you see ties between two countries?
Farhod Arziev: For the past four months, we have had the highest level visits.
The second time our president visited on January 17, 18 and attended the Vibrant Gujarat investment summit. I would like to stress the intensity of visit at the highest level shows how close and how the dynamic relationship between the two countries are. Our relations are getting closer at various levels - political, economic, trade and cultural.
In all areas, it is a comprehensive character. We had a country pavilion where we showed 'made in Uzbekistan' products. Our president gave a speech (at Vibrant Gujarat) to highlight key areas of cooperation.
Our president highlighted the importance of connectivity between India and Uzbekistan as a means to expand investment. The idea is to establish a railway line project that can connect Uzbekistan and India via Afghanistan through the Chabahar port.
We believe in expanding connectivity through which trade options will increase. Regional cooperation was also highlighted.
WION: How do you see investment ties?
Farhod Arziev: Investment and economic cooperation is an important part of Uzbek-India dialogue. The investment was an important part of the agenda of our President when he came on the state visit in last year in October.
This time in his talks with PM Modi, important investment cooperation was highlighted separately. And I am happy to inform you as part of the visit, a very important and strategic agreement on the supply of Uzbek uranium to India and exchange of documents took place in front of two leaders in Vibrant Gujarat summit hall.
And also to encourage investment project we have signed an agreement between EXIM bank of India and state investment committee of Uzbekistan. They have inked framework agreement on the line of credit. We are talking about a soft loan.
We are getting a line of credit at the volume of $200 million to implement social and infrastructure project. We working with the private sector in India.
Our principal diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal spoke to Uzbek Ambassador Farhod Arziev on a range of issues from Chabahar to connectivity to Afghanistan.