Bangladesh and India have agreed to further enhance bilateral relations by boosting cooperation in different areas to take their friendly ties to new heights.
The neighbouring countries arrived at the decision on Saturday during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.They also discussed the progress achieved in areas like connectivity, energy, trade, health and developmental cooperation.
Modi held one-on-one talks with Sheikh Hasina, which was followed by a delegation-level meeting that continued for over an hour.
The Indian premier arrived in Bangladesh on a two-day state visit on Friday, which is his first foreign trip since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting on Modi’s visit, diplomatic circle in Dhaka and New Delhi said Bangladesh and India have set examples of friendship to the world even during the pandemic through this historic and memorable visit.
When the whole world is struggling to fight the virus by closing borders, the two next-door countries continued to script a golden chapter in bilateral relations, they said.
“This is an exceptional relation, a relation tied by blood. So in any crisis one country will stand by the other.”The relations began in 1971 when India stood by Bangladesh in the war against Pakistan. Indian soldiers also laid down their lives for the independence of Bangladesh.
Narendra Modi said ground-level cooperation is needed to check all those incidents happening along the India-Bangladesh border, reports UNB quoting PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim briefing on the bilateral meeting.
The Indian premier came up with the remarks when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested him to look into the matter properly so that the sad border incidents could be reduced to a zero level.
The border incidents between the two countries were discussed during the bilateral meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Talking about the water-sharing of common rivers, including that of Teesta River, Sheikh Hasina said the decision to sign a Teesta water-sharing agreement was taken jointly nine years back. “But it’s yet to be implemented," she said, adding that the people living in the vicinity of the Teesta River have been suffering a lot.
In a reply, the Indian prime minister said, "We’re committed to a reasonable solution to sharing of water of all the common rivers."
Regarding the Rohingya issue, Sheikh Hasina said she expects a more active role of India in the repatriation of over one million Rohingyas.
She mentioned that the Rohingyas should be repatriated as soon as possible to prevent their involvement in drug business and terrorist activities. “The sooner the better,” she said.
In reply, Narendra Modi said India wants a sustainable return of the Rohingyas.
Sheikh Hasina thanked the Indian government for sending Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh and said this reflects India’s ‘neighbour first’ policy.
She also said the first commercial consignment of Covid-19 vaccine has been used and hopes that the rest of the consignments will be delivered soon.
Sheikh Hasina also thanked the Indian prime minister for giving 1.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine as a gift.
Bangladesh and India on Saturday signed five deals covering areas of bilateral cooperation in disaster management, digital services and trade facilitations, which the two sides are expecting to usher in a new era of relations between the two South Asian countries.
The deals were signed following a bilateral meeting between the two countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi led their respective delegations at the talks that lasted over an hour.
In the meeting at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Dhaka, Modi and Hasina discussed the progress achieved in the areas of health, trade, connectivity, energy, development cooperation and other issues.
The deals were signed in presence of the two prime ministers.
The deals are: I) MoU on the field of Disaster Management, Resilience and Mitigation between National Disaster management Authority of India and Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief of Bangladesh. II) MoU on Cooperation between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps and National Cadet Corps of India. III) MoU for the supply of ICT Equipment, Courseware and Reference Books and Training for Bangladesh-Bharat Digital Service and Employment Training Centre. Six BDSET Centres will be set up in Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Jashore and Natore. IV) MoU for Establishment of Sports Facilities at Rajshahi College Field and Surrounding Areas. V) MoU on the Establishment of a Framework Cooperation in the area of Trade Remedial Measures.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami and Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief of Bangladesh Md Mohsin exchanged the MoU on disaster management, resilience, and mitigation on behalf of the respective governments.
Director-General of Bangladesh National Cadet Corps Brigadier General Nahidul Islam Khan and the Indian High Commissioner Vikram Kumar Doraiswami exchanged the MoU between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps and the National Cadet Corps of India.
Indian High Commissioner Vikram Kumar Doraiswami and Commerce Secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin exchanged the MoU on the establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures between Bangladesh and India.
Senior Secretary to the Information and Communication Technology Division of the Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology Ministry Bangladesh NM Zeaul Alam and Vikram Kumar Doraiswami exchanged the MoU on supply of ICT equipment, courseware and reference books and training for Bangladesh-Bharot Digital Service & Employment and Training (BDSET) Centre.
The Indian high commissioner and Secretary of the Secondary and Higher Education Division at the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh Md Mahbub Hossain exchanged the MoU on establishment of sports facilities in Rajshahi College field and surrounding areas on behalf of their respective governments.
The two prime ministers also jointly laid foundation stones of five package of Rooppur Power Evacuation projects and a memorial tomb of the Indian soldiers martyred in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 to be set up at Ashuganj in Brahmanbaria.
Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi also inaugurated three border haats, Rabindra Bhaban Kuthibari in Shilaidaha, Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition and also released India-Bangladesh Friendship stamps to commemorate the 50 years of the Dhaka-Delhi diplomatic relations.
Gifting of 109 ambulances from India to bolster health capacity of Bangladesh was also announced.
Earlier, on arrival, the Indian premier was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with a bouquet at the Tiger Gate of the PMO.