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Banquet Speech by the Prime Minister during his visit to Uzbekistan

Your Excellency Mr Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Excellency, thank you for kind words and your warm welcome and hospitality. 

My visit to the five great nations of Central Asia is the start of a new journey for an ancient relationship.

And, it has begun in the city of Tashkent. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of history. It holds a special place in the hearts of Indians.

We thank you for the permanent monument to our late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died here nearly 50 years ago.

My visit also speaks of Uzbekistan's leadership in the region. 

Excellency, dawn of independence is also the moment of greatest challenge for a nation. 

You have led your country at freedom. You have built a modern, inclusive and stable nation that is now among the fastest growing economies in Asia and beyond. And, you are striving for your region's progress with great vision.

You visited India within months of Uzbekistan's independence. It tells us that bonds of human hearts do not fade due the barriers of history and politics. Your five visits to India reflect the strength of your commitment to our partnership. 

The glory of Central Asia, the splendour of its culture, the achievements of its science, the beauty of its art and the magnificence of its architecture are woven around the great cities of Uzbekistan. 

The timeless links between India and Central Asia were formed on the territory of Uzbekistan. India's spiritual heritage influenced early life in this region. In turn, we see you imprint in our own cities and our daily life – in devotion and celebration, in art and architecture, in our music and food, in textiles and handicraft.

The strains of Sufi songs and Bhakti poems are in harmony in their eternal spiritual search.

The radio broadcast in Hindi has completed 50 years in Uzbekistan and Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata have been telecast here more than once. It is as much a reflection of our enduring links as it is of Uzbekistan's openness to the world.

We have enriched each other in the past. 

Now, we are building a relationship that will give our people a prosperous future, keep our nations safe and uphold our shared values. 

Closer ties between a nation of 1.25 billion experiencing rapid economic growth and Central Asia will boost prosperity in our nations, contribute to Asia's resurgence and reconnect Eurasia. 

Our cooperation can counter extremism and terrorism that is a threat to our security and our region's stability. 

We also seek your partnership to connect more closely with Central Asia. 

We deeply value your support in international forums, including the United Nations.

Excellency, in a rapidly changing world, some things are constant. Relationships are driven not just by needs, but by values and emotions. India and Uzbekistan are blessed with vast goodwill and, even more, with great potential.

It is time for us to move boldly to seize our opportunities. 

Excellency, in the short time that we have spent together, I am confident that with your leadership, we can do that.

Excellency, I extend my best wishes for your continued health, success and well-being, and for the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Uzbekistan.

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