ASTANA: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today arrived in Kazakhstan, India's largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia, after a brief transit halt in Turkmenistan.
Swaraj is on a three-nation tour to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as part of India's efforts to boost strategic partnership with the resource-rich Central Asian nations.
On her way to Kazakhstan, she held talks with her Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov on a wide range of bilateral issues.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet: "Ancient & historical ties dating back to 2500 years! EAM @SushmaSwaraj arrives in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan on the first leg of her 3-nation trip. Both countries have a close strategic partnership and Kazakhstan is India's largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia."
During her visit to Astana, the minister will hold a bilateral meeting with her Kazakhstani counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov, the MEA said in a statement in New Delhi.
She will also call on the country's leadership and interact with Indian community, it said.
India and Kazakhstan have a close strategic partnership and multi-faceted relations.
The bilateral relations have been strengthened by the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Kazakhstan in 2015 and by his visit for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in June 2017 when he had a productive meeting with the President of Kazakhstan, the statement said.
There have also been meetings between the leaders on the margins of the SCO and Nuclear Security Summits keeping up the momentum in the growth of bilateral relations, it said.
Swaraj's visit to the three Central Asian countries is her first visit to these countries as External Affairs Minister.
The visit is in pursuit of India's objective of enhanced engagement with this region which is India's extended neighbourhood.
It will provide an opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with the political leadership on a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues and will advance India's growing engagement with the Central Asian Region.