New Delhi: In a bid to enhance its military-to-military relations, India has offered to assist Kyrghyzstan in a wide range of areas -- particularly training in UN peacekeeping operations -- to strengthen the Central Asian nation`s defence and security capabilities.
Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony made the offer during extensive talks with his Kyrghyz counterpart Maj. Gen. Abibilla Kudayberdiev in Bishkek, a defence ministry release said here Tuesday.
The talks took place between the delegations of the two countries immediately after Antony`s arrival in the Kyrghyz capital.
As a first step, India will be sending a team to train the Kyrghyz armed forces in United Nations peacekeeping operations and impart English language skills.
The Indian team will be arriving in Kyrghyzistan by the end of this month, the release said.
During the talks, Antony said there was scope for increasing the defence relations between the two countries.
"Though the present level of defence engagement is rather limited, there is potential to mutually enhance the scope and scale of activities in a gradual manner in areas of mutual interest, particularly in the field of military training, defence research and development and production of defence armaments," he said.
Antony is leading a high-level delegation that includes Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief V.K. Saraswat, Special Secretary R.K. Mathur, Secretary (Defence Finance) Vijay Lakshmi Gupta and DRDO`s chief controller of research and development William Selvamurthy. Indian Ambassador to Bishkek P. Stobdan also joined the deliberations.
"India has a wide network of defence research establishments not only in armaments but also in physiology, medicine, animal husbandry and nutrition,l" Antony said, offering New Delhi`s assistance to Bishkek for undertaking joint research and production in non-military sectors also.
"We can explore areas for cooperation in research and development in high-altitude base agriculture, plantations, animal husbandry, poultry and food processing that would also help generate rural employment and remove poverty," he added.
Appreciating the support of Kyrghyz authorities in international efforts against terrorism and drug trafficking, the Indian defence minister said the joint working groups on counter-terrorism should meet regularly to share information on the issue.
Maj. Gen. Abibilla Kudayberdiev thanked Antony for his offer of cooperation in both military and non-military areas. He accepted an invitation from the Indian defence minister to visit New Delhi shortly to take the cooperation forward.
The Kyrghyz defence minister expressed happiness that the two sides have worked out a cooperation plan for the year 2011.