India on Tuesday reiterated that New Delhi is committed to further strengthening and consolidating the existing excellent relations with Bangladesh and working together for the next fifty years and beyond towards attaining a vision of shared prosperity and development.
India also assured Bangladesh of resolving all the pending bilateral issues amicable and said it doesn’t want to take any move that could create an issue to crack the ongoing excellent ‘golden chapter’ of Bangladesh-India bilateral relations.
Bangladesh also reaffirmed its commitment to continuing the existing excellent relations with India to continue peace, stability, prosperity and development for both the nations.
Shringla, who was India’s high commissioner to Bangladesh, arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday morning on a two-day visit to review the wide ranging cooperation between the two countries and prepare for the State visit of President of India Ram Nath Kovind on December 15-17 to join the 50th Victory Day celebration of Bangladesh.
Apart from his delegation level bilateral meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, Shringla is also scheduled to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday when he is expected to convey special message carrying from Indian PM Narendra Modi.
After meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Foreign Minister Momen told reporters that India doesn’t want to take any move that could create an issue to crack the ongoing excellent ‘golden chapter’ of Bangladesh-India bilateral relations.
“They also don’t want to see any incident that could make any kind of [crack] over Bangladesh-India’s [golden chapter of] relation,” he said, adding that they discussed a number of pending issues between Bangladesh and India, including border killing and water sharing.
He said that Dhaka also urged India to expedite the process of holding the next Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting to resolve the water sharing issues between the two countries.
“We have to solidify this relation … it is needed for welfare of the people of both the countries,” Momen said, adding that the two countries would like to elevate it further. Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretaries of Bangladesh and India on Tuesday carried out a comprehensive review of the bilateral ties.
Both the Foreign Secretaries expressed their satisfaction at the excellent relations between the two countries and noted that 2021 is a landmark year for Bangladesh since the country is celebrating three epochal events -- Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence and the 50th anniversary of establishing Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.
In this context, they expressed satisfaction at the joint celebration of Maitree Dibas in 20 capitals across the world, including Dhaka and New Delhi, on December 6, 2021, to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
During their discussion, the Foreign Secretaries of Bangladesh and India reviewed the progress of the entire gamut of the areas of cooperation, which includes trade and investment, border management, connectivity, water resources management, power, energy, and cooperation in the health sector dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Masud put stress on the smooth and uninterrupted supply of AstraZeneca COVISHIELD Vaccines purchased through MoU signed between Serum Institute of India and BEXIMCO Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
The two Foreign Secretaries also discussed new and emerging areas of cooperation, including eco-friendly transportation, green technologies and renewable energy, noting that there was scope for strategizing synergies for mutual benefit.
Foreign Secretary Masud enumerated that India is the closest and most important neighbour for Bangladesh, noting that over the last five decades, both the countries have witnessed remarkable progress in a number of areas.
He stressed that the visit of both the President and the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh within the same year is a testimony of the warm relationships that exist between the two countries.
Referring to the protracted Rohingya crisis, Foreign Secretary Masud requested the support of India to facilitate the safe, secured and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar as the security risks from the crisis would not just remain confined within Bangladesh.
Talking to reporters after meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Shringla said there is no major difference in opinions regarding the pending bilateral issues between Bangladesh and India, which have been enjoying the ‘golden chapter’ of relationship.
“We discussed the issues, but we found no major differences … there are only areas to take forward, we are looking forward how we can work on [to resolve the issues],” he said.
Shringla said people of both India and Bangladesh sacrificed their lives, their blood for the independence of Bangladesh. “This is very rare. We are proud of your victory, we are proud to be part of your celebration,” he added.
He said Indian Prime Minister Modi visited here in March last and the Indian president is scheduled to be here this month and it will make a record that Indian president and premier visited the same country in the same year.
Besides, Shringla said both the Indian prime minister and the president choose Bangladesh for their first destination to visit after COVID stalemate which illustrates the golden chapter of relationship that the two neighbours have been passing through.
About the bilateral meeting, he said they also discussed some forward-looking areas like green energy, renewable energy and other sectors involving the employment opportunity for the young generation of both the countries.
Shringla said the connectivity projects between the two countries are going on very well as five out of the six rail connections have already been restored and the sixth one will be completed by this year.
He said India wants to promote eco-friendly railway and waterway connectivity with Bangladesh. The Indian foreign secretary lauded Bangladesh’s economic success and said it is something that India is very proud of.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary said they also discussed connectivity, green energy, green technology, e-commerce and how both the countries can go forward.
About the COVID cooperation, the foreign secretary said both the sides reiterated that it would continue as “Bangladesh cannot be safe if India is not safe and also India cannot be safe if Bangladesh is not safe”.
He noted that Bangladesh is a major pillar of India’s neighbourhood first policy. He expressed his satisfaction that both the countries have closely cooperated in addressing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Foreign Ministry press release issued after the meetings stated that Foreign Minister Momen underscored that despite the goodwill and excellent relations between the two countries, the killing of Bangladesh nationals by the Indian border security forces continued to remain an irritant and requested the Indian Foreign Secretary to take up the matter with all the relevant agencies in India.
Momen put stress on promoting robust trade and commerce between the two countries for mutual benefit. He also requested the Indian side to take necessary measures in completing the “Swadhinota Sharak” connecting Mujibnagar to Kolkata as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.
The Foreign Minister recalled that the two countries had resolved many of the outstanding issues in a spirit of understanding and expressed the hope that all outstanding issues, including early signing of the Teesta Water sharing Agreement and equitable comprehensive water sharing agreement for other common rivers, would be resolved soon.
Foreign Secretary Shringla appreciated the transformative socio-economic development in the recent years under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He added that peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh is mutually beneficial for both the countries.
Later, Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan paid a courtesy call on the Indian Foreign Secretary at The Westin Dhaka.
In the evening, a reception was held at the High Commission of India at Baridhara in honour of the visiting Foreign Secretary.
A number of eminent personalities, senior political leaders and cabinet members, editors of newspapers and TV channels, including Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam and Daily Sun Editor Enamul Hoque Chowdhury, attended the reception.