Ansari leaves on a four-day visit to Uzbekistan

Vice President Hamid Ansari Tuesday left on a four-day visit to Uzbekistan.

New Delhi: Vice President Hamid Ansari Tuesday left on a four-day visit to Uzbekistan during which issues of cooperation in counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and development projects in the region will come up for discussion.

Ansari is travelling with a high-level delegation to Tashkent where he will meet Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.

Issues relating to Afghanistan will come in for "serious discussion" in the backdrop of withdrawal of US troops in 2014 and economic reconstruction projects undertaken by New Delhi in that region.

Terming terrorism as a "common and pressing concern" for the two countries, Joint Secretary (Eurasia) Ajay Bisaria has said several radical elements of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, now called Islamic Movement of Turkistan and Hizb-ut Tahrir, have found shelter in the region.

Then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had visited Uzbekistan in 1993 followed by present incumbent Manmohan Singh in 2006.

Karimov had visited India in 1991 as leader of the Communist Party, and later in 1994, 2000, 2005 and 2011 as Uzbek President.

The visit will give fillip to bilateral relations between the two countries. India and Uzbekistan have a bilateral trade worth USD 200 million with the balance of trade tilted in favour of New Delhi.

At least 15 Indian pharmaceutical companies are represented in Uzbekistan where India is also involved in the IT sector. The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for IT Excellence there is set to be upgraded in the coming days.

India is also setting up a power transmission line which will send power from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

Besides Tashkent, Ansari would also visit the historic cities of Samarkand and Bukhara where he will meet the heads of the regions.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, MPs K N Balagopal, Shivanand Tiwari, Sumitra Mahajan and E M S Natchiappan are accompanying the Vice President.