Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will participate in the first meeting of the India-Central Asia Summit to be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a virtual format on January 27.

“This will be the first engagement of its kind between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders,” according to a release from the MEA issued on Wednesday.

The first India-Central Asia Summit is a reflection of India’s growing engagement with the Central Asian countries that are a part of India’s ‘extended neighbourhood’, the release added.

The five leaders from the Central Asian countries were initially expected to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26 this year, but due to the fast spread of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, the plan had to be dropped.

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At the Summit, the leaders will discuss measures for greater mutual cooperation in all spheres between India and Central Asia. “They are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues of interest, especially the evolving regional security situation,” the statement added.

There have been a number of exchanges at high levels at bilateral and multilateral forum following Modi’s visit to the Central Asian countries in 2015.

“The inception of the India-Central Asia Dialogue at Foreign Ministers’ level, the third meeting of which was held in New Delhi from December 18-20, 2021, has provided an impetus to India-Central Asia relations,” the release said.

The participation of the Secretaries of National Security Councils of Central Asian countries in the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held in New Delhi on November 10, 2021, outlined a common regional approach.