President Emomali Rahmon has been a regular visitor to India

Vice-President Hamid Ansari leaves here on Sunday on a four-day official visit to Tajikistan that is expected to give an impetus to India’s relations with the Central Asian neighbour.

During the visit from April 14 to 17, Mr. Ansari will hold discussions with the President Emomali Rahmon who has been a regular visitor to India. The Tajik President’s last visit, his fifth to India, was in September 2012. It coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. India had played a key role in developing the Ayni airbase and continues to cooperate with Tajik authorities in maintaining it. The President, who has been at the helm of affairs in hydrocarbon and hydroelectric-rich Tajikistan, had then held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India has also unveiled its Connect Central Asia policy, which includes a proactive multi-pronged diplomatic thrust to expand ties with the energy-rich Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Tajikistan with whom India has strategic ties also holds a crucial place for India, owing to its geo-political position, as it shares borders with China and Afghanistan. The nearest Tajik point is only 16 km from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The two countries also have old and traditional linguistic and cultural ties.

“Mr. Ansari’s visit to Tajikistan is part of high-level contacts which the two countries have maintained over the past two decades. The then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had visited Tajikistan in 2003 and President Pratibha Devisingh Patil’s visit came six years after that. This will be the first visit by an Indian Vice-President. The goodwill visit is expected to further cement bilateral relations,” External Affairs Ministry officials said on Saturday. The low level of trade between India and Tajikistan, which stood at $27 million last year, remains an area of concern for both the nations.

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