New Delhi, Apr 4 : Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari will begin his week-long tour to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan from today. This will be his first visit to any foreign countries after assuming the post in August last year. During the visit, the Vice-President will be accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed.
Ansari's visit assumes significance amid India taking keen interest to step up engagement with Central Asia. In Turkmenistan Capital Asgabat, Ansari will have discussions with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Deputy Chairman Rashid Meredov and senior leaders. India's participation in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector are the issues to be discussed with the Turkmen leaders.
In Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, he will hold talks with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He will also meet Senate Chairman K Tokayev and address the Senate. Here Ansari will be conferred an honorary doctorate degree.
India and Kazakhstan have close ties on energy sector and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed in petroleum and natural gas sector. Ansari will also hold talks in which trade and economic cooperation could be stepped up between the two countries.