Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra has said his country has total support to the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"We've total support to you and your leadership," he said while paying a courtesy call on the Bangladesh premier at the latter's official residence Ganabhaban on February 15. PM's Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam briefed reporters after the meeting.

Nazrul quoted Kwatra as saying that India will remain beside Bangladesh during its development journey, including political and economic progress.

During the meeting, the Indian foreign secretary invited Sheikh Hasina to attend the 18th Group of Twenty (G20) Summit which will take place in New Delhi on September 9-10 this year.

Accepting the invitation, the Bangladesh PM extended thanks to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

India, which holds the presidency of the G20 from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023, invited Bangladesh as a "guest country" in its all meetings.

Describing the bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries as a very firm one, Kwatra said the whole world now values the Bangladesh-India relationships, which has already reached a strategic level. This relationship is being strengthened further.

In this context, the prime minister mentioned India as a trusted friend and hoped that this friendship would deepen further.

She said both countries can work on the socio-economic development of their people.

The visiting Indian official said they are trying to make the terms and conditions of Indian Line of Credit (LoC) easier so that Bangladesh can avail the credit and repay it easily.

He said the bilateral trade and business should be run with the use of both countries' local currencies.

PM's Principal Secretary M. Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma were present.

Hydropower from Nepal, Bhutan

India has assured Bangladesh of extending its cooperation for importing hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan through India, said Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen.

Talking to reporters at the Foreign Service Academy, he said they also discussed the "practical problem" in terms of transmission lines inside Bangladesh as there is a need for expanding the transmission network and boosting its capacity.

Masud, who held foreign office consultations (FOCs) with Indian counterpart Vinay Kwatra, said India will help Bangladesh if any specific project is taken for expanding the transmission network and boosting its capacity within Bangladesh to supply electricity smoothly.

Bangladesh will also explore whether Indian lines of credit (LoCs) can be used if any specific project is taken in consultation with the relevant ministry for the expansion of transmission lines inside Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Rajendra Lingden Tuesday in a meeting with the Indian foreign secretary discussed matters of mutual interests, including cooperation in the energy and water resources sector.

During the FOCs, Kwatra and Masud had wide-ranging discussions covering all aspects of Bangladesh-India ties.

Both sides agreed to further strengthen their ongoing cooperation, in diverse areas, including the India-funded concessional LoCs, trade and investment, connectivity, power and energy, defence and security, and people-to-people ties.

During the visit, the Indian foreign secretary called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and conveyed the Indian prime minister's message of the country's continued commitment to the bilateral relationship, upholding Bangladesh as the pivot of India's 'Neighbourhood First Policy' and a key partner of "Act East Policy."

The foreign secretary also called on Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and conveyed the greetings of the external affairs minister.

The two sides agreed to enhance their cooperation and consultations on regional and international issues of shared interest.

In this context, India looks forward to active participation of Bangladesh as the "guest country" at various events during India's presidency of G-20.

Both sides also agreed to extend reciprocal support to each other's upcoming candidature for non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

In recent years, especially in the last decade, Bangladesh and India have sustained a high level of engagement, including at the leaders' level.

The visit of India's Foreign Secretary helped further strengthen the multifaceted partnership between the two countries, reinforced their time-tested ties and provided an opportunity to comprehensively review progress in the bilateral relationship, said the Indian side.

Removal of tariff, non-tariff barriers

Bangladesh has expressed satisfaction with increasing trade with India and emphasised removing all tariff and non-tariff barriers to reduce the trade deficit.

At the foreign office consultation (FOC), Bangladesh sought India's cooperation in resolving the pending issues, especially, concluding water-sharing treaties, including Teesta.

Bangladesh also emphasised maintaining a predictable flow of commodities from India for a stable market in Bangladesh.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Foreign Secretary of India Vinay Mohan Kwatra led their respective delegations at the FOC held at the Foreign Service Academy.

Masud congratulated India for taking the presidency of the G20 and thanked it for inviting Bangladesh as a "guest country."

The Indian foreign secretary said they included Bangladesh as a guest country for sharing the experience of the growth trajectory of Bangladesh achieved under the "visionary leadership" of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with other members of G20.

Kwatra described Bangladesh as India's trusted friend and reiterated that India is "committed to working with Bangladesh in the coming days."

He said Bangladesh is one of the most important pillars towards India's "Neighbourhood First Policy" and a key partner to its "Act East Policy."

He also emphasised exploring and working together in emerging sectors for cooperation.

Both the foreign secretaries expressed satisfaction with the "excellent bilateral relationship" that exists between the two countries.

At the FOC, they discussed all the major issues of mutual interests and agreed to promote cooperation encompassing all sectors, especially, defence and security cooperation, border management, trade and commerce, development cooperation, connectivity, water resources management, people-to-people contact, power and energy sector.

They underscored the need to work together during this transition time which resulted due to the impact of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and evolving geo-political context.

While highlighting that the "number of deaths along the border has been reduced" in recent times, they stressed working towards bringing the number down to zero.

Meeting with FM

The Indian foreign secretary also met Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen. He said Bangladesh and India are going through a "Golden Chapter" and stressed maintaining this momentum.

The foreign minister said regular high-level visits contributed to reinforcing the relationship between the two countries.

Momen said the state visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi in September last year has added significant impetus to the existing ties.

He underscored the necessity of resolving the pending issues between the two countries in the "spirit of a good neighbourhood."

The foreign minister expressed satisfaction that the two countries are complementing each other's economies.

He emphasised regional cooperation and working together for ensuring shared peace and prosperity, as "envisioned by Sheikh Hasina.

While appreciating Bangladesh for its recent advancements in various sectors, Kwatra emphasised the partnership between Bangladesh and India to address challenges in the region and beyond.

Momen sought India's "steadfast assistance" in the early repatriation of more than 1.1 million Rohingyas to their country of origin.

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