NEW DELHI - In a move seen as building stronger bridges with Central Asian countries, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony is visiting Kyrgyzstan on July 4-5.
"India desires to have a greater role in Afghanistan after the allied forces leave. New Delhi [also] is trying to build ties with Central Asian countries, which are rich in natural resources," said Mahindra Singh, a defense analyst based here.
India already has a military base in neighboring Tajikistan, close to its capital of Dushanbe near the Afghan border.
Antony heads a delegation to Kyrgyzstan that includes V.K. Saraswat, the head of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and R.K. Mathur, special secretary in the Defence Ministry.
"The visit aims at giving a further boost to the bilateral ties of India with the central Asian republics on a wide range of areas," said a Defence Ministry statement.
Antony will hold talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Abibilla Kudayberdiev, and will discuss opportunities in defense cooperation.
"One of the highlights during Antony's brief stay in Bishkek [the Kyrgyz capital] will be his participation in the inauguration of the unique Kyrg-Indian Mountain Biomedical Research Centre, jointly established by the DRDO and the National Centre of Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Kyrgyzstan Republic, for pursuing studies on high-altitude acclimatization," the statement said.
India has been building ties with other Central Asian republics, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India also is planning to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The pipeline would transport natural gas from Turkmenistan's Yoloten-Osman gas field.