Besides defence, the Kazakh-Indian cooperation also continues to increase in the field of energy, investment, pharmaceuticals and logistics
Continuing with its efforts to strengthen relations with the Central Asian countries, India is looking forward to expanding its defence and strategic partnership with Kazakhstan as Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev, the re-appointed Defence Minister of the country, began his four-day visit to India Wednesday.
The Kazakh Defence Minister arrived in Jodhpur today and is expected to travel to Jaisalmer, New Delhi and Agra for meetings and visit to defence establishments on the invitation of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
General Yermekbayev will be holding a bilateral meeting with Singh in the capital on Friday. The duo had last met in Moscow on September 5, 2020 on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting.
Yermekbayev's visit comes on the heels of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in the Indian capital on Tuesday. Besides other major issues, both ministers had also discussed connectivity, including the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
During his visit to Kazakhstan in July 2015, PM Narendra Modi and then President Nursultan Nazarbayev had also agreed that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail-link, operationalised in December 2014, should become a linked corridor of the INSTC.
In accordance with the traditions of centuries-old friendship, mutual respect and benefits, the Modi government has been focusing on deepening interregional cooperation with strategically important countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in order to strengthen trade, economic interaction, security and ensure sustainable growth in Central Asia.
Growing partnership between Nur-Sultan and New Delhi
India was, in fact, one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan. Diplomatic relations between both countries were established in February 1992 and the Embassy of India was opened in Almaty in May 1992, followed by the opening up of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in New Delhi in 1993.
Strategic partners since 2009, the defence cooperation between India and Kazakhstan includes military-technical cooperation, military education and training, joint military exercises, bilateral exchange of visits and cadet youth exchange programs.
Defence relations with Kazakhstan have made significant progress in recent times with the conduct of bilateral Army joint exercise 'Prabal Dostyk' and jointly taking part in peacekeeping operations in the United Nations.
Last year, in a bid to explore opportunities to boost exports of defence products to Kazakhastan, various Indian companies such as L&T Defence, Ashok Leyland Limited, Bharat Forge, Zen Technologies, Elcom Innovations, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Alpha Design Technologies and Bharat Electronics Limited had made company and product presentations on major platforms/equipment like artillery systems, radars, protected vehicles, missiles and air defence equipment, training solutions, etc.
At the same time, the Kazakh-Indian cooperation also continues to increase in the field of energy, investment, pharmaceuticals and logistics.
The growth of trade turnover between the two countries reached 1.57 billion USD in January-May 2020, an increase of two times compared to the same period in 2019.
"India has a great interest in investing into key industries in Kazakhstan, especially in mineral resources including oil producing blocks. In addition, India is engaged in expanding cooperation in tourism and education," Indian Ambassador in Kazakhstan, Prabhat Kumar told The Astana Times in an interview recently.
The Ladakh Scouts, Indian Army's contingent of 5th Batallion, had participated in a two week military drill in Kazakhstan in 2018 (Image courtesy: ADGPI)
Modi and Nazarbayev had also acknowledged the importance of collaboration in the hydrocarbons sector and welcomed the formal commencement of drilling of the first exploratory well in the Satpayev block which coincided with the Indian PM's visit.