ASTANA – On July 7-8, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited Kazakhstan, meeting the leadership of the country, delivering an address at Nazarbayev University, attending a business forum with leading CEOs from both sides and inaugurating the India-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology at the Eurasian National University in Astana over his working visit.
On the first day of the visit, a number of bilateral agreements in energy and defence were signed between the two nations. According to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the signing of those agreements was discussed earlier in Delhi at the 12th session of the Kazakh-Indian Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical, Industrial and Cultural Cooperation on June 16-17. The commission also reviewed cooperation in energy, the peaceful use of nuclear energy, trade, investment, industrial development, transportation, civil aviation, culture, sports, tourism, health care, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, education, science, mining, textile production and trade, banking and the military and technical spheres.
In his speech at Nazarbayev University, Modi congratulated the first graduates of the university and emphasised the importance of education in the nation’s progress and leadership in many spheres.
“Today, Kazakhstan is a nation of global stature and respect. This is not just because Mother Nature has been generous to you with resources of every kind. It is because of your investment in education, human resources and infrastructure. These have helped increase the size of the economy four times in the last 10 years,” he said.
During the business forum, Kazakhstan and India agreed on specific areas for bilateral partnership, and a road map for trade-economic and investment cooperation between the two countries was signed. Other investment opportunities in Kazakhstan were also presented to forum participants from India. Thirteen memoranda, including an agreement on economic partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, were signed as a result of the forum.
On the second day of his visit, Modi met President Nursultan Nazarbayev to discuss the international agenda and bilateral relations. In the meeting, Nazarbayev noted the significant potential for strengthening and expanding Kazakh-Indian cooperation.
“In 1991 we declared independence. From the first day of independence, Kazakhstan was seeking to build a close and trusting relationship with India. I have high expectations for your visit, which will give a new impetus to both trade and political cooperation. Today, Kazakhstan is the largest partner of India in the region. There are also great prospects for further development of cooperation,” Nazarbayev said.
Modi thanked the Kazakh President for his hospitality. He also congratulated Nazarbayev on his July 6 birthday, expressing confidence in the Kazakh President’s visionary policy and the expected benefits for the nation’s people.
“Trade and economic dimensions are driving forces in bilateral relations. Kazakhstan is the largest trade partner for India in Central Asia. Last year, trade turnover reached $1.3 billion, doubling since 2013. We have gained considerable experience in the frames of our joint work, as in the field of informational technology, oil and gas, agriculture, nuclear energy and pharmaceuticals,” said Nazarbayev at his joint press conference with Modi in the Akorda on July 8.
The leaders affirmed the importance of cooperation in civil nuclear energy and praised a signed long-term contract between KazAtomProm and the Department of Atomic Energy of India continuing the supply of natural uranium to India. Under the contract, Kazakhstan is to supply 5,000 tonnes of uranium to India in 2015-2019, Nazarbayev announced calling it an example of a “systemic development of cooperation in the energy sphere.”
He further praised the agreement announced during the visit between Kazakhstan Temir Zholy national railway company and its Indian counterparts providing for a transportation network through the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railroad, reaching further to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas giving an outlet to western Indian ports at Mandra.
“We share many interests and have similar directions in economic and political development. The positions of our countries coincide on many international issues, including regional security, communication and integration, as well as holding reforms at the United Nations. Kazakhstan is the largest economic partner of India in the region. Our relations have a great potential for further development. We intend to make every effort to ensure that economic ties will go to a new level,” said the Indian prime minister.
Nazarbayev reiterated Kazakhstan’s support for India’s permanent membership in an expanded UNSC and for India’s candidature to a non-permanent seat on the UNSC for 2021-22. In turn, Modi reiterated support for the candidature of Kazakhstan for a nonpermanent UNSC seat for 2017-18.
Prime Minister Modi arrived in Kazakhstan on July 7 after visiting Uzbekistan. On July 8, after two days in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, Modi left for Ufa, Russia, for summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS. After his visit to Russia, Modi intends to continue his diplomatic tour of Central Asia and travel to Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
Modi is very active on social networks, tweeting frequently despite a busy schedule. Arriving in Kazakhstan, the Indian prime minister posted a few tweets in the Kazakh language. Upon arriving in Astana airport, he wrote,
“I am happy to be in Kazakhstan. India’s very valued friend in Central Asia,” Modi posted in Kazakh.
The second Kazakh tweet was accompanied by a picture of Modi and his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov. “Thank you PM Karim Massimov for the memorable welcome,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Modi has 13.5 million followers on his Twitter account.