Foreign Affairs

India, Bangladesh to showcase their model ties on the world stage

India, Bangladesh to showcase their model ties on the world stage

New Delhi and Dhaka have decided to showcase their good neighborly relations as a ‘model ‘ on the world stage.

As both, the countries will celebrate Golden Jubilee of diplomatic relations coinciding with 50 years of the liberation struggle of Bangladesh as well as birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman next year,  both the countries have decided to celebrate these in a befitting manner at the UN headquarter and Capitals of several countries.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla who paid a two-day unscheduled visit to Dhaka and was the first high ranking foreign official to be received during the raging Covid-19 pandemic by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday as a rare protocol gesture.

Both the Foreign Secretaries held a bilateral meetings with other officials in Dhaka Foreign office to firm up the future course of engagements in the Mujib Borsho 2020-21 as declared by the Bangladesh Government to raise the relationship beyond ‘strategic partnership’ in the real sense of the term.

India has never showcased any bilateral relationship in the United Nations. After the meeting, both sides agreed for joint minutes of the deliberations and noted ,” both sides discussed firming up plans for organizing joint events to celebrate Mujib Borsho and the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh Independence as well as the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

It also added that the two sides have decided to hold programmes at select capitals across the world as well as at the UN Headquarters. It was decided that next year the two Prime Ministers will jointly inaugurate Agartala-Akhaura rail line, creating an access to the North –East India and beyond South Asia to ASEAN countries.

During the meeting with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the visiting Foreign Secretary conveyed a message from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘aiming at further strengthening the ties of friendship between the two countries. ‘

Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Masud Bin Momen hosted a working lunch on Wednesday afternoon. During one and half hour long meeting held in “exceptionally warm, frank, and cordial environment’’, they discussed Covid -19 situation of both the countries and India offered Covid-vaccine whenever it gets ready and Bangladesh agreed to even allow human trials for the vaccine, if needed.

It was also noted that Indian Foreign Secretary reiterated that Bangladesh comes first for India in PM Modi’s ‘neighborhood first policy’. Mr Shringla expressed deep gratitude for the kind gesture of PM Hasina to grant him an audience in spite of her not having met any foreign dignitaries since the outbreak of Covid-19.

They reviewed present ongoing cooperation like usage of Chittagong and Mongla port and handing over of 10 locomotives for Bangladesh Railways which was appreciated by PM Hasina.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mr. Momen stated that his country is ready to collaborate in the development of vaccines, including trial, when it’s ready. Foreign Secretary Shringla who had also served as Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka expressed India’s willingness to be in close touch with Dhaka and other neighbors and highlighted the cost advantage that India enjoys due to economies of scale in manufacturing of vaccine.

It was also decided both countries will have Foreign office consultation chaired by Foreign Ministers of both countries soon and Border guards of two sides will meet in Dhaka next month to reduce the killings in the border. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary is also expected to visit New Delhi in the coming months.

(The writer is a senior journalist and a commentator on Indo-Bangladesh affairs.) 

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