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Khurshid to visit Almaty for ‘Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference’

New Delhi, Apr 24 (ANI) External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will pay a visit to Almaty, Kazakhstan, this week for the ‘Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference’ which falls within the framework of the Istanbul Process.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, who made this announcement yesterday, said ‘this is the third Ministerial Conference’.

“This brings together fourteen countries which are in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan. Along with them there are sixteen other countries which are not in the neighbourhood or the vicinity but which have extended support for this process. Then there are several other international and regional organizations, which provide support to Afghanistan,” he added.

Akbaruddin said this conference basically has three elements.

“One is of course the political consultations at the Ministerial level. There will be an outcome document at the conclusion of these consultations. The second level is the various CBMs that were discussed at the Kabul Ministerial Conference and how we move forward in terms of those CBMs. For those of you who are interested, there are six confidence-building measures that were agreed to in Kabul last year. These relate to: counter terrorism, counter-narcotics, disaster management, trade, commerce and investment opportunities – and this is the CBM where we as India had taken the lead, and those of you who have been following this would recollect that we had an Investment Summit conference in Delhi last June,” said Akbaruddin.

“In addition there are two other CBMs. These deal with infrastructure and education. These are the CBMs that we are likely to discuss and plans for these will be considered at the Conference,” he added.

Akbaruddin further said ‘the third element is coherence in terms of the actions of the regional organizations so that there is no overlap or duplication of the activities of these organizations’.

The MEA spokesperson also informed that the ministerial conference is scheduled to be held on April 26.

“Along with the External Affairs Minister we will have the Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Afghanistan, S.K. Lambah, who will be attending the Conference. He will be assisted by senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, the Additional Secretary Yash Sinha, along with our Ambassador Designate to Afghanistan,” he said.

From Kazakhstan, Khurshid will travel to Moscow to attend an intersession meeting of Indo-Russian Inter-governmental Commission (IRIGC).

“The visit is largely focused on the inter-sessional meeting of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission. As you are aware, the External Affairs Minister chairs this from the Indian side and Rogozin the Deputy Premier of Russia is his counterpart chairperson from the Russian side,” said Akbaruddin

“They are likely to have discussions on the entire gamut of our bilateral relations in terms of trade, economic, commercial, science and technology matters, and of course cultural cooperation. Of course when the External Affairs Minister is there he will also take the opportunity to meet with other senior members of the Russian leadership including his counterpart the Foreign Minister of Russia, Lavrov,” he added. (ANI)