New Delhi: Central Asia is central to India’s vision of an integrated and stable extended neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as he hosted the first India-Central Asia Summit in a virtual format.

In his initial remarks at the Summit, Modi said, “We all are concerned about the Afghan situation and this makes cooperation between India and Central Asia all the more important for regional stability and security.”

The virtual summit saw the participation of five presidents — Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Uzbekistan’s Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyz Republic.

The prime minister called for defining an ambitious vision for cooperation between India and Central Asia in the coming years.

Mutual cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity, Modi said.

This is the first engagement of its kind between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders.

The first India-Central Asia Summit, the MEA had said, is a reflection of the country’s growing engagement with the Central Asian countries, which are a part of India’s “extended neighbourhood”.

Modi had paid a visit to all Central Asian countries in 2015. Subsequently, there have been exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forums.

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