Connectivity a big goal; broader development in region on focus

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (file photo)

Dhaka, Delhi consider Tokyo as possibility on connectivity cooperation

Bangladesh and India are committed to continue their work together to take bilateral relations to newer heights under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bangladesh thankfully acknowledges the collaborative initiative of the two countries in implementing the vaccination programme against the ongoing pandemic. Bangladesh has purchased the Covid vaccine from Serum Institute of India and Bangladesh is implementing the nationwide vaccination programme free of cost.

Bangladesh and India are set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations this year. The two friendly countries are looking forward to the next 20 years and beyond. India has picked up “connectivity” with Bangladesh as a big goal for the years to come that might change the entire logistic and whole geo-economics of the region giving the Bay of Bengal a very different look.

“I would say most of all – let’s look at connectivity. If we get connectivity right between India and Bangladesh, I can tell you, the entire logistics and whole geo-economics of the region will change, Bay of Bengal we look very different,” said Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar during his brief visit on March 4.

In a joint briefing with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen at state guesthouse Padma, Dr Jaishankar said they spent lots of their conversation on this very specific subject and they think this is possible.

The Indian Minister said they actually feel that they should even involve third countries and talked about Japan as a possibility because Bangladesh and India have very good relations with Japan. “Japan is involved in connectivity projects in the Bay of Bengal.”

Jaishankar mentioned that Minister Momen shared something with him referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (connectivity is productivity) which really impressed him.

He said the more the two countries do, the more possibilities will open up and mentioned that there is no domain where they are not working today.

Secondly, the Indian Minister highlighted the human aspect -– people-to-people ties, education, health and cultural ties.

“We should have much more people led-relationship,” he said adding that he is very convinced that this would give an additional impetus to the Dhaka-Delhi cooperation.

At the end of the day, Jaishankar said, the relationship between countries is a relationship between peoples.

The Indian Minister said when he looks at India-Bangladesh ties, he sees enormous possibilities - economic possibility, connectivity possibility and lots of people-to-people possibilities.

Highlighting enormous regards to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh, he said the two countries’ bonding is central to realisation of the dream of a peaceful, prosperous and progressive South Asia.

“We see Bangladesh as a key neighbor and a valued partner, not only in South Asia but also in the broader Indo Pacific region,” said the Indian Minister.

He said the two countries are working so hard to expand relations all dimensions ranging from security, trade, transport, connectivity culture, people to people ties, energy and joint development of shared resources and defence.

The Indian Minister assured that India will always be there by Bangladesh’s side as a reliable friend.

Sharing India’s admiration and pride for Bangladesh’s graduation from the LDC status, he said it is truly a tribute to Bangladesh’s “miraculous socioeconomic progress” and reflection of statesmanship and leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Indian Minister arrived by a special aircraft in the morning. Foreign Minister Dr Momen welcomed the Indian Minister at Bangabandhu Air Base.

Jaishankar arrived in Dhaka at the invitation of Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, aiming to deepen the ties between the two countries. During the visit, the External Affairs Minister also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The visit followed the PM-level Virtual Summit held between two countries on December 17, 2020.

Bangladesh looks forward to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit this month to take forward the bilateral relations with some deliverables.

Modi's planned visit to Bangladesh on March 26-27 will be his first trip abroad in more than a year, mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bangladesh will host some important events from March 17-26, 2021.

No Crime, No Killing

Bangladesh and India highlighted their shared objective with an approach “no crime, no death” to end killings along the border, noting that every death is regrettable.

“Our shared objective should be no crime, no death (along the border). I’m sure if we can get it right -- no crime, no death -- we can together address this problem effectively,” said Dr Jaishankar.

At the joint media briefing, he said the two countries know the problem and the problem is because of crimes and mentioned that the two countries discussed the issue in the meeting.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar led their respective sides at a bilateral meeting held at state guesthouse Padma, taking stock of the progress of their relations.

On water sharing issues, including Teesta, the Indian Minister said all know the position of India and that position has not changed.

He said the two countries will have a water resources secretary-level meeting soon and he is sure that they will be discussing it further.

The Indian Minister said there is no issue that they cannot discuss and resolve through amicable talks and this is a matter of satisfaction that despite pandemic the interactions and conversation continued between the two countries.

He mentioned that commerce, water resources and shipping secretaries are due to meet soon which demonstrates the commitment that both sides have to see progress in their relations.

Stronger Ties Despite Pandemic

The Indian Minister said the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reaffirm their friendship with Bangladesh as Bangladesh is the largest recipient of vaccines from India, including vaccines as a gift.

Addressing the briefing, Dr Momen said they discussed a wide range of ongoing bilateral issues as well as bilateral interests that they can take forward in the days ahead.

“We focused on possible ways to materialise our commitments and how to prioritise and accommodate each other’s priorities in a mutually beneficial manner,” he said.

Dr Momen said Covid cooperation, connectivity, trade, water, security, border and lines of credit are some of the areas they discussed.

Landmark Year

Preparations for the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh at the end of this month have been a key element of their discussions.

“We’re very pleased that Prime Minister Modi will join us for the Mujib Borsho celebrations as well as the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations,” he said.

Dr Momen said this is a landmark year for the two countries and they discussed some of the important activities that they planned to undertake jointly to celebrate these historic occasions.

He said Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition will be inaugurated in Dhaka soon which will ultimately promote the ideals of the two great leaders, particularly among the youth population of the two countries.

The two sides discussed ways to take forward the relations as the two countries are set to celebrate the 50 years of Bangladesh independence together this month.

The visit follows on the PM-level Virtual Summit held between two countries on December 17, 2020.

Bangladesh looks forward to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit this month to take forward the bilateral relations with some deliverables, said State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam.

Modi's planned visit to Bangladesh on March 26-27 will be his first trip abroad in more than a year, mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bangladesh will host some important events from March 17-26.

A passenger train is likely to be made operational between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri of India on March 26 as part of the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are expected to flag off the train service.

The two leaders held a Summit in virtual format on December 17 last year and had comprehensive discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations, and exchanged views on regional and international issues.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for accepting her invitation to visit Bangladesh in person in March 2021 to join the celebrations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.

  • Dhaka-Delhi Ties
  • Dhaka-Delhi
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Bangladesh and India

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