India, Kazakhstan agree to further strengthen defence cooperation

India and Kazakhstan on Friday agreed to further strengthen defence cooperation as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the country’s top leaders to discuss ways to consolidate the strategic partnership in areas like trade, energy, security and information technology.

Swaraj is on a three-nation tour to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as part of India’s efforts to boost strategic partnership with the resource-rich central Asian nations.

She held delegation-level talks with her Kazakh counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

The two leaders held a comprehensive discussion on deepening cooperation in trade and investment, defence and security, energy, Information and Communications Technology (ITC), pharma, capacity building and culture.

Kazakhstan is India’s largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia.

Swaraj said during her meeting with Abdrakhmanov they discussed the full range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

“We took stock of progress in our bilateral relations. India’s relations with Kazakhstan are built on a strong foundation of centuries old historical and cultural ties.

Swaraj said during her talks with Abdrakhmanov she sought to consolidate and further strengthen India’s friendly relations with Kazakhstan.

“Both Foreign Minister Abdrakhmanov and I expressed our interest to further strengthen our defence cooperation based on solid foundation that we have in place. Our defence and security sector cooperation has intensified in the last two years,” she said.

Kazakh Armed Forces Unit underwent training on peacekeeping operations in India and presently a mobile training team from the Indian Army is training Kazakh personnel in Almaty.

Swaraj said India has emerged as the fastest-growing large economy in the world and is a global hub for manufacturing and innovation.

“Under Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s leadership, India has launched several flagship programme such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Clean India’, Start up India, 100 smart cities etc. I shared with Foreign Minister Abdrakhmanov that there are many elements of Digital India programme that could be of interest to Kazakhstan for its own Digital Kazakhstan programme,” she said.

She also discussed with Abdrakhmanov India’s interest to partner with Kazakhstan to explore markets for new products, diversifying from the trade in traditional products to inject fresh impetus to the trade between the two countries.

On Thursday, Swaraj praised the Kazakh people for their warmth in welcoming the Indian diaspora as she interacted with the Indian community living in the country.