The 1st India-Central Asia Dialogue at the level of Foreign Ministers will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on 12-13 January, it was officially announced here on Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will co-chair the dialogue along with Abdulaziz Kamilov, the host and the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan.

The foreign minister of Afghanistan will participate in the dialogue as a special invitee for the session dedicated to connectivity issues in the region. The foreign ministers of Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan and the first deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan will represent their respective countries.

Bound together through shared history and cultural linkages, India and the Central Asian states look forward to the dialogue as an important initiative to enhance their cooperation in wide-ranging spheres, including exploring ways to substantially enhance India’s economic involvement in business and development sector of Central Asia, the MEA said.

With the participation of Afghanistan, the participants of the dialogue will also deliberate on developing viable connectivity options between India and Afghanistan and Central Asia to further facilitate trade and economic activity in the region.

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to all the five Central Asian countries in 2015 and Swaraj’s Central Asia tour in August 2018, the India-Central Asia dialogue, with the participation of Afghanistan, is expected to strengthen India’s engagement, including political, economic, development partnership and cultural, with all the Central Asian countries and take it to a new level.