Dushanbe, Oct 8 (PTI) India on Monday offered a grant of USD 20 million to Tajikistan for financing development projects in the resource-rich Central Asian country as President Ram Nath Kovind and his Tajik counterpart held talks and reaffirmed their determination to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism.

President Kovind, who is here on a three-day state visit to strengthen India’s ties with the country, reviewed the Guard of Honour along with Tajik President Emamoli Rahmon before the start of bilateral discussions.

“This is my first visit to Central Asia. Tajikistan is our nearest neighbour in Central Asia. I have, therefore, decided to make my first call in Dushanbe,” Kovind said.

India has historical ties with Tajikistan. Poets and philosophers like Rudaki, Amir Khusro and Bedil are household names in India and Tajikistan, he said.

“Their works bear testimony to our shared values of humanism and tolerance,” the president said.

He said India recognises Tajikistan’s great contribution to combating radicalisation and terrorism, promoting peace, stability and a progressive way of life in the country.

“India’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was strongly supported by Tajikistan, has opened a new vista in our strategic partnership,” Kovind said.

India last year became a full member of the SCO which was founded in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India and Tajikistan signed key Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) in the fields of political relations, strategic research, agriculture, renewable energy, traditional medicine, space technology, youth affairs, culture and disaster management, he said.

India remains committed to provide capacity building and development assistance support to Tajikistan, he said.

“We are happy to offer a grant of USD 20 million for financing development projects as identified by the Government of Tajikistan.

“We will undertake feasibility study of solar projects in seven villages in the country as requested by our host. We are also happy to provide two English language laboratories for Tajik Military,” Kovind said.

Together, India and Tajikistan can promote the International North-South Transport Corridor and other connectivity initiatives such as the development of Chabahar Port and the Ashgabat Agreement for smooth transport of goods, he said.

“We live in a region which has unfortunately been beset with challenges posed by fundamentalists and terrorists.

“Both India and Tajikistan remain determined to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism which are a grave threat to international peace and stability. I thank President Rahmon for his support for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN,” Kovind said.

India had proposed a draft document in 1996 on the CCIT at the UN but there has been no consensus among the UN member states on its adoptation.

India is committed to peace and development in neighbouring Afghanistan through an Afghan-led Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled peace process, Koind said, adding that like Tajikistan, India too looks forward to a peaceful Afghanistan which is able to achieve national reconciliation.

Kovind said he has extended an invitation to President Rahmon to visit India at an early date.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.