Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and other 12 represntatives from Asian countries at the much coveted Heart of Asia Conference being held in Amritsar tomorrow to highlight terrorism, trade and cooperation takes place.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will address the conference as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is ill. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and other representatives will meet on the sidelines of the inaugural conference symbolic to bring in stakeholders of Asia for more trade. The 14-member conference is likely to bring forth a loose alliance of like-minded actors to take the regional cooperation to the next level.
Pakistan is being represented by Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz while other ministers from Iran, Russia and China will make it broader in terms of trade-centric talks and India may raise the issue of terrorism since the venue near the border owing to infiltrations is visibly to offset Islamabad’s mindset.
India is likely to announce military aid to Afghanistan including 7 helicopters and receive assurance from Russia on supplying spares and conducting repairs on other aircraft in Afghanistan.
India is keen to focus on the Chabahar port in Iran for trade to Afghanistan, the overall agenda will centre around developing trade routes to Afghanistan, as China and Pakistan are focusing on the development of the Gwadar Port.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif is expected to make a presentation on the benefits of Chabahar to Afghanistan, while India will try to rope in others to develop the port project.
“We are already working with the governments of Afghanistan and Iran to do an event in Chabahar itself, sometime in the near future which involves not merely the governments and experts but also brings together industry and also showcases Chabahar for other countries which can benefit from the enhanced connectivity through Chabahar,” MEA official Gopal Baglay said.
Recently, Russia, Turkmenistan and Qatar have indicated an interest in the port, while Iran, that refers to Gwadar and Chabahar as “sister ports,” is keen to use the port for trade and gas supplies. China has already inaugurated its Yiwu-Mazar e Sharief rail line, under the One Belt One Road (OBOR) plan through Afghanistan to the CPEC route to Gwadar.
The Heart of Asia conference is the 7th in the series after the Istanbul Process was established in 2011 to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly encouraging security, political, and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbors. The United States and over 20 other nations and organizations are “supporting nations” in the dialogue.
Past Ministerial Conferences of Heart of Asia Dialogue:
1st: 2 November 2011,
2nd: 14 June 2012,
3rd: 26 April 2013,
4th: 31 October 2014,
5th: 9 December 2015,
6th: 26 April 2016,
New Delhi, India
7th: 4th December 2016,
United Arab Emirates