On November 3, Defense Minister of Uzbekistan, Major General Bakhodir Kurbanov held bilateral talks with Defense Minister of India Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Government Heads meeting in Tashkent.
It should be noted that this was the first visit by an Indian Defense Minister to Uzbekistan in about 15 years.
According to ndtv.com, during the meeting, both sides expressed satisfaction at the enhanced level of defense engagement between Uzbekistan and India.
This enhanced level of engagement is reflected in the first-ever meeting of the JWG on Defense Cooperation in February 2019, visit of Defense Secretary of India in March 2019 and the first-ever Defense-Industry Workshop organized in Tashkent in September 2019.
India has offered a concessional line of credit in the amount of $40 million for procurement of goods and services by Uzbekistan from India. The direct exchanges related to training, capacity building and education between the Armed Forces on both sides has also witnessed a significant upswing.
The defense ministers agreed that the two sides will continue to work together to further raise their level of engagement in the defense sphere in keeping with strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and India.
This will be based on a higher level of mutual trust and respect between the two countries and on their shared views and approaches on a range of regional and international issues, including promoting regional stability and security and combatting extremism and terrorism.
Following the meeting, the two sides concluded a MoU on cooperation in the field of Military Medicine between the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan and India. In the coming days, the sides will continue discussions at the expert level to further enhance their exchanges in this sphere.
“Two Institution-to-Institution MoUs on training and capacity building between institutes of higher military learning of the two countries were also signed. The MoU is a byproduct of interactions emanating from the MoU on Military Education signed between the parties in October 2018,” the Indian Defense Ministry said.
The defense ministers jointly presided over the “curtain-raiser” of the first-ever Uzbekistan-India Joint Exercise “Dustlik 2019” on November 3, 2019.
The exercise will be conducted from November 4 to 13, 2019 at Chirchiq Training Area near Tashkent and will be focused on counter-terrorism, a field in which the two countries share a common concern.
In the exercise, an Indian Army contingent will train along with Uzbekistan Army. The exercise will enable the sharing of best practices and experiences between the Armed Forces of the two states and will lead to greater operational effectiveness.