New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will next week visit the five Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Russia, where he will participate in the BRICS and SCO Summit.
The visits start on Monday, from Uzbekistan.
"India and Uzbekistan enjoy a close strategic partnership... I would be holding talks with President (Islam) Karimov and we would be inking key agreements to strengthen cooperation between our countries," Modi said in a post on his official Facebook page.
He said Indian movies, language and music were very popular in Uzbekistan.
"In fact, the Uzbek radio completed 50 years of Hindi broadcasting in 2012... I would be interacting with Indologists, students learning Hindi and members of the Indian community. There are over 3,000 Indians in Uzbekistan."
On July 7 and 8, Modi will be in Kazakhstan, India`s largest trading partner in Central Asia. He will meet President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Miniter Karim Massimov.
"India and Kazakhstan are cooperating in a wide range of sectors including energy and space. I see a huge opportunity for our economic ties to grow further. India and Kazakhstan can also increase ties in agriculture," said Modi.
He will also interact with Kazakh youth at the Nazarbayev University, and inaugurate the India-Kazakhstan Centre for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology at the L.N. Gumilev Eurasian National University.
"I will join a wreath laying ceremony and planting of sapling at the Monument of Defenders of Motherland."
"Our cultural ties with Kazakhstan are deep rooted. Our films, TV serials and dances are very popular. Yoga is gaining popularity. I must appreciate the enthusiasm with which Kazakhstan joined Yoga Day celebrations on 21st June," he said.
The next stop would be Russia, where Modi will attend the 7th BRICS Summit and SCO Summit in Ufa.
"In the past one year, I have had the opportunity to meet the BRICS leaders at the Summit in Brazil and during other international forums. The Summit last year was productive and I am sure we will build on the ground covered during the last Summit. I expect positive outcomes in economic cooperation and cultural ties among the BRICS nations," he said.
"India attaches high importance to BRICS. It is a great forum that can contribute effectively to mitigate global challenges. BRICS also has a very crucial role to play in further world peace and security and ensuring we leave behind a better planet for our future generations."
On July 11, Modi will reach Turkmenistan, for the first visit by an Indian prime minister after P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1995.
He will meet President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which will be followed by talks and signing of agreements.
"Areas where I see a rich scope for better ties with Turkmenistan include tourism, fertilizers, space, science and technology and defence. Our bilateral trade is way below its potential and I am confident we can improve it," he said.
Modi will inaugurate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and a Traditional Medicine and Yoga Centre.
"I am very happy to see the increased enthusiasm towards Yoga in Turkmenistan. It is my firm belief that my visit will take India-Turkmenistan ties to the next level and benefit our citizens," he said.
Modi reaches Kyrgyzstan on July 12, for the first visit by an Indian prime minister in 20 years.
"My talks with President Almazbek Atambayev will be focused on ways to develop a strong partnership with Kyrgyzstan in as many areas as possible. Stronger economic ties between India and Kyrgyzstan will be very helpful in the long run. I am eager to also meet Prime Minister Semir Tariyev and Speaker of the Parliament Asylbek Jeenbekov."
India will be gifting medical equipment to the Kyrgyz Field Hospital.
"I am sure this will touch the lives of several sisters and brothers in Kyrgyzstan. I will inaugurate tele-medicine links, which shall promote medical tourism from Kyrgyzstan to India. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will also be unveiled. I will have the opportunity to visit the Kyrgyz-India Mountain Biomedical Research Centre and join the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Victory Monument in Bishkek."
"May this visit usher in a new era of very strong India-Kyrgyzstan ties," he said.
On the last leg of the visit, Modi will be in Tajikistan on July 12 and 13. He will meet Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and key agreements will also be signed.
The last prime minister to visit Tajikistan was Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003.
"We have a strategic partnership with Tajikistan and have very strong defence cooperation as well. However, our economic cooperation has been limited and the scope of growth is immense. Bilateral trade has huge potential," Modi said.
India will gift medicines for the India-Tajikistan Friendship Hospital.
"The Indian Cultural Centre in Dushanbe is popular among people, who go there to learn tabla, kathak, yoga and Hindi among other activities. A statue of the beloved and widely admired Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore will be unveiled in Dushanbe," he said.