India is looking to invite top leaders of Central Asian countries to the upcoming Republic Day celebrations. This step is being taken at a time when India is expanding its ties with the region. Officials familiar with the development said on Sunday that the option of inviting the leaders of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan as chief guests was being considered. He did not rule out the possibility of selecting other options and said that the guest list has not been finalized yet.
India had invited leaders of the influential regional bloc ASEAN (Organization of Southeast Asian Nations) of 10 nations for the Republic Day celebrations in 2018 and all of them participated in it.
India has been focusing on enhancing overall cooperation with energy-rich Central Asian countries over the years. It sees these countries as its extended neighbourhoods.
India’s ties with the region were further strengthened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s five-nation visit in July 2015, resulting in the expansion of bilateral ties in several areas. In addition, recent developments in Afghanistan reaffirmed the importance of Central Asian countries, three of which border Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The National Security Advisors (NSAs) of these five Central Asian countries also participated in the regional dialogue hosted by India on the subject of Afghanistan on 10 November. Russia and Iran’s NSA also participated in this dialogue.
This year no one had attended India’s Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest. India had invited British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the chief guest and he accepted the invitation, but he canceled his visit to New Delhi three weeks before the ceremony due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK. .
Earlier, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2020 and he was the third President of Brazil to grace the ceremony.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2019, while leaders of ASEAN countries attended the ceremony in 2018.
Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest of the ceremony in 2017, while then French President Francois Hollande graced the occasion in 2016. Earlier in 2015, then US President Barack Obama was the chief guest.