New Delhi: Due to the surge in cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron globally, including India, no heads of state of Central Asian countries will be attending India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
India had sent formal invitations to the heads of state of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi last year. “Due to COVID-19, we will not have Central Asian leaders’ visits,” diplomatic sources told ANI.
The inviting of heads of all five Central Asian countries on the occasion of India’s Republic Day reflects the importance New Delhi gives to its Central Asian policy.
Relations with all the five central countries with India are centuries old. They also play an important role in terms of cultural activities, finance, medical tourism and strong diplomatic exchanges.
Central Asian countries are geographically surrounded by land and India has advocated better connectivity through Chabahar port, among other routes.
In addition, with regards to the situation in Afghanistan, sending Republic Day invitations by India to the heads of state of Central Asian countries sends a strong message to the neighbouring countries as well.
Notably, India on Tuesday logged over 2.3 lakh COVID-19 cases and 310 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per Union Health Ministry. The daily positivity rate is above 14 per cent.
Meanwhile, Delhi on Monday reported 12,527 fresh COVID-19 cases with a positivity rate of over 27 per cent.