President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov paid a state visit to the Republic of India on May 17-18, 2011.
The Indian side suggested the visit be attached state status, the highest in international practice.
Obvious as it is, that decision involved consideration of the high level of bilateral partnership as much as the ancient roots of the enduring comprehensive friendly relations between Uzbek and Indian people.
In Uzbekistan, India is renowned as a country with a distinctive history, one with which the Uzbek people have been tied with long-standing robust cultural and trade bonds, and, crucially, with earnest friendship.
A lot in the history, literature, music, fine arts and architecture of the two peoples, their reciprocal enrichment is associated with the name of our great ancestor Zahiriddin Muhammad Bobur.
The visit’s official part started with an official ceremony in honor of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, at the square outside the presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Karimov has been presented top state honors.
During a meeting with mass media right there at the square, the Uzbek leader made a brief statement to the press on the objectives embarked by the current state visit, the status granted to which set the tone for the summit, figuratively speaking. Islam Karimov pointed to the need for a critical reassessment of the current state and prospects of relations between Uzbekistan and India.
Furthermore, the head of Uzbek state spoke of the pending discussion of pressing issues in regional and international affairs, those of shared concern and interest. What’s more, Uzbekistan’s President insisted, the sides set out to exchange views with regard to affording a new powerful impetus to Uzbek-Indian interaction through materializing untapped opportunities, through enlarging the bilateral cooperation in political, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
Islam Karimov met with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a contracted format, and the two leaders discussed at length the current condition and prospects of bilateral relations along with an extensive range of regional and global issues that directly affect the interests of the two nations.
In an atmosphere of confidence and candor, President Karimov and Prime Minister Singh deliberated on an ample agenda of Uzbek-Indian cooperation, including resourceful interaction within international institutions like the United Nations and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Uzbekistan has consistently supported India’s aspiration to be granted a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
During talks the sides agreed that their positions concur in basically every other bilateral, regional and global issue. It has been reiterated that both Uzbekistan and India are interested in a mutually rewarding interaction built on the account of one another’s good.
The parties discussed the evolving situation in neighboring Afghanistan and reaffirmed the grave necessity for a soonest establishment of peace and stability in that country, one that would open up wider opportunities for regional cooperation and help institute and advance cost-effective routes reducing the distance between the markets of India and Central Asia.
In this regard, as the two sides noted, prospects emerging fr om setting up Central Asia-Persian Gulf land transport corridor as well as Trans-Afghan access strip have been telling.
These plus other topics have ben the focus of bilateral talks in an expanded format as well, when President Islam Karimov and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were joined by other members of official delegations.
The core issues conferred during the summit have been those concerning trade and economic collaboration, including investment partnership. The sides emphatically pointed out that for Uzbekistan and India, as the ones priding themselves in high rates of economic growth, the present-day mutual trade volumes can hardly be considered satisfactory.
Uzbekistan supports the efforts of Indian companies to enhance investment cooperation in sectors they wield technological edge. In this regard, interaction with one of the largest investors in the Uzbek textile sector, Spentex Industries, has been referred to as a classic example of success story, with a number of projects underway for processing raw cotton. In addition, pharmaceutical companies, hydrocarbon and chemical industry firms have reported to be working out remarkable joint schemes.
Indian businesses express interest in the increasing opportunities presented by the transcontinental inter-modal hub at Navoi airport – a transit point that provides for gainful timeframes for cargo shipments to and from Europe, CIS countries, Middle East and other regions of the world. Regular flights to major transit spots of the globe, including such industrial centers of India as New Delhi and Mumbai, are currently operated from that international hub.
The two sides agreed that among the most promising areas of bilateral partnership are information technologies, and especially software production, telecommunications equipment, distance learning and other spheres wh ere Indian specialists have duly taken up leading positions in the world. Opened five years ago in Tashkent, Jawaharlal Nehru Uzbek-Indian Center of Information Technologies has grown widely popular with its cutting-edge techniques for training young professionals and extensively introduced modern principles of programming.
Action Plan to Promote Cooperation in Tourism signed during the visit between Uzbekturizm national company and Indian Tourism Development Corporation has testified to the shared interest of the two countries to step up interaction in travel industry.
The two delegations underscored the existing ample opportunities in building up a vigorous cooperation in science. Uzbek scholars and research centers say they are willing to spread out joint research with their Indian counterparts in fields like physics, biotechnology, material sciences, solar energy, laser technologies, and mechanization of manufacturing processes.
The head of Uzbekistan met and held rewarding talks with other top leaders of India – President Pratibha Patil, Vice President - Speaker of the upper house of parliament Hamid Ansari, Minister for Foreign Affairs Somanahalli Malay Krishna. Displaying due respect for Indian protocol, Islam Karimov held talks with leader of opposition in the lower house of parliament, Sushma Swaraj.
President Islam Karimov visited Mahatma Gandhi memorial to lay a wreath in tribute to a great son of the Indian people, who devoted his entire life to the struggle for national liberation.
In general, as participants of negotiations and representatives of Indian media covering the state visit of President Karimov have acknowledged, the Uzbek-Indian dialogue at the highest level and long-term documents signed between the two nations provide with a potent impetus to boost bilateral cooperation.
As highlighted in the Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership, relations between Uzbekistan and India are elevated to a level of long-term strategic partnership built on equality and mutual understanding, a partnership that will help foster a prolific interaction covering a broad array of areas, including political, economic, anti-terrorism, as well as education, healthcare, human resource development, science and technologies, tourism and culture.
A collection of documents has been inked during the visit aiming to cardinally augment economic and investment cooperation in fuel energy, information technologies, textiles, pharmaceuticals, banking and trade.
In particular, in excess of 30 projects are designed for implementation, including those in joint prospecting, exploration and production of hydrocarbons with India’s leading oil and gas company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, along with manufacturing fiber-optic cables in Navoi free industrial and economic zone, a number of projects on the production of substances and various medicines. Agreements have been penned with leading textile companies on deep processing of cotton, silk and raw leather to produce and retail finished goods. In the field of information and communication technologies, projects are agreed upon for manufacturing smart phones, tablet PCs and Internet set-top boxes, as well as power sources based on solar-hybrid technologies. The signed deals stipulate for a number of projects in chemical industry, too.
National Bank of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity has signed agreement with Export-Import Bank of India to establish a credit line on long-term privileged terms. Major longer-run supplies of mineral fertilizers and other strategic goods have also been secured by due contracts.
The overall worth of the economic package underwritten during the current visit of Uzbek President exceeds 2.2 billion U.S. dollars.
Evaluating the implications of President Islam Karimov’s visit to India, the two sides agreed in the opinion that the talks held and deals reached are to prove a solid and reliable foundation for a new phase of interaction characterized as a strategic partnership in all areas of cooperation, on a long term basis.