New Delhi: With the pull-out of US forces from Afghanistan in mind, India and Uzbekistan will discuss cooperation in counter-terrorism besides development projects in the region when Vice-President Hamid Ansari undertakes his first ever visit to Tashkent next week.
Ansari would be travelling with a high-level delegation to Uzbekistan between May 21 and 24. Ansari will meet Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.
Briefing reporters here on the visit, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) in the MEA Ajay Bisaria said issues related to Afghanistan will come in for "serious discussion".
The issues that will figure in the talks include cooperation on counter-terrorism in the backdrop of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014 and economic reconstruction projects undertaken by New Delhi in the region.
"Conversations would revolve around economic reconstruction projects and also counter-terrorism cooperation," Bisaria said.
Terming terrorism as a "common and pressing concern" for the two countries, he said several radical elements of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, now called Islamic Movement of Turkistan and Hizb-ut Tahrir, have found shelter in the region.
Then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had visited Uzbekistan in 1993 followed by present incumbent Manmohan Singh in 2006.
Karimov had visited India in 1991 as leader of the Communist Party, and later in 1994, 2000, 2005 and 2011 as Uzbek President.
The visit will give fillip to bilateral relations between the two countries. India and Uzbekistan have a bilateral trade worth USD 200 million with the balance of trade tilted in favour of New Delhi.
At least 15 Indian pharmaceutical companies are represented in Uzbekistan where India is also involved in the IT sector. The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for IT Excellence there is set to be upgraded in the coming days.
India is also setting up a power transmission line which will send Uzbeki power to Afghanistan.
Besides Tashkent, Ansari will also visit the historic cities of Samarkand and Bukhara where he will meet the heads of the regions.
Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, MPs K N Balagopal, Shivanand Tiwari, Sumitra Mahajan and E M S Natchiappan will accompany the Vice-President.