New Delhi: The situation in Afghanistan and boosting connectivity and development cooperation are set to be key focus areas of the third edition of India’s dialogue with five Central Asian countries on Sunday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is hosting the dialogue being attended by his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Foreign Minister of Kyrgyz Republic Ruslan Kazakbaev, his Tajik counterpart Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi have already arrived in Delhi.

Muhriddin is visiting India to attend the India-Central Asia Dialogue as well as on a bilateral tour.

In the last few years, India has been focusing on expanding overall cooperation with the energy-rich Central Asian countries, considering them to be part of its extended neighbourhood.

The recent developments in Afghanistan reinforced the importance of the Central Asian countries with three of them — Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — sharing borders with the war-torn nation.

The national security advisors of all the five Central Asian countries attended an India-hosted regional dialogue on Afghanistan on November 10. It was also participated by NSAs of Russia and Iran.

The focus of the dialogue will be to enhance connectivity and development cooperation as well as the unfolding developments in Afghanistan, officials said.

“The ministers are expected to discuss further strengthening of relations between India and Central Asian countries with particular focus on trade, connectivity and development cooperation,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.

“They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he said at a media briefing.

The second meeting of the India-Central Asia dialogue was organised by India in October last year in digital video-conference format.

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