Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev Photograph:( Reuters )
The summit named "Central Asia and South Asia regional connectivity: Challenges and opportunities" is being organised as an initiative of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev
Uzbekistan has invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and leaders in Central Asia for an international connectivity summit from 15th to 16th July that will take place in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.
The summit named "Central Asia and South Asia regional connectivity: Challenges and opportunities" is being organised as an initiative of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. It will have three common themes of discussion--economic, cultural, security--connectivity and aims to refresh historical ties. Leaders and representatives of Russia, Iran, China, the US, and the European Union will also be invited to the summit.
The invitation to India was extended during Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov's New Delhi visit in late February. Kamilov has already visited the capitals of the other four Central Asian countries to extend the invitation. In March, Kamilov had visited Islamabad to hand over the invitation to Khan.
The summit will see a gathering of leaders from South and Central Asia and aims to increase connectivity between the two regions. This is the first such initiative of this kind from Uzbekistan, which is a doubly landlocked country. Uzbekistan, along with Liechtenstein are the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world.
Uzbekistan has been keen on using the India-built Chabahar port in Iran. Both countries formed the group with Iran for increasing engagement on the port. Afghanistan will be invited for the next meet of the grouping. During the December virtual summit between Indian PM Modi and Uzbek President Mirziyoyev, the latter announced the intention to join International North-South Transport Corridor that connects Mumbai to Moscow.
Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country with which India has held a virtual summit so far. In strategic space and defence, both sides are increasing engagement. India and Uzbekistan held military exercises Dustlik-2 from 9th to 21st March at Chaubatia, Uttarakhand. On Afghanistan as well, both sides hold regular exchanges.
With other countries in the region, Afghanistan is increasing engagement on connectivity, especially with air corridors and the Chabahar port project backed by New Delhi. A trans-Afghan railway is being planned, with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan being part of it.