Dhaka, March 4 (Prothom Alo): Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday said India sees Bangladesh as a key neighbour and a valued partner not only in South Asia but also in the broader Indo-Pacific region.
“We see Bangladesh as a key neighbour and a valued partner not only in South Asia but also in the broader Indo-Pacific region. Every outcome and achievement in our relationship resonates through the region. It is no secret that we cite it to others as an example for emulation,” Jaishankar remarked to media after talks with Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen at State Guest House, Padma.
The significance of our ties with Bangladesh lies in its centrality for our ‘Neighbourhood First’ and its growing relevance for our ‘Act East’ Policy, he added.
The Indian foreign minister said, “As you know, we are working to prepare for the planned visit of our prime minister. It will be a very memorable visit, the prime minister’s first travel outside India since the Coronavirus pandemic as well as his second as PM to Bangladesh.”
“We know that this is a very special year, when both countries mark the Mujib Barsho, 50 years of Bangladesh’s Liberation and 50 years of our bilateral relations,” Jaishankar also said.
“This truly highlights the importance we attach to these three anniversaries, as well as the enormous regard we have for prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh. Our relations transcend orthodox partnerships, and I believe our bonding is central to the realisation of the dream of a peaceful, prosperous and progressive South Asia. It is in pursuit of this vision that both sides have made remarkable progress in this relationship, especially since prime minister Narendra Modi’s assumption of office in May 2014.
“This is why we are working to expand our partnership in all dimensions, ranging from security, trade, transport and connectivity, culture, people to people ties, to energy, joint development of our shared resources and defence ties. Our comfort levels are so high now that we have shown that there is no issue that we cannot discuss and resolve through amicable dialogue.
“It is a matter of satisfaction that despite the Covid pandemic, our interactions and consultations continued unabated. We have done Virtual Summit in December, Joint Consultative Commission in September, meetings of Foreign Secretaries, Power Secretaries and Home Secretaries, Police Chiefs, BSF- BGB and defence visits. Our Commerce, Water Resoruces and Shipping Secretaries are to meet soon. This itself shows the commitment of both sides.”
Jaishankar further said, “Even the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reaffirm our friendship. Bangladesh is the largest recipient of Made in India vaccines. Also among the friendship our largest gift of vaccines (2 million) is also appropriately to this country.
“Our recent activities go beyond consultations and gestures, however important they may be. We have made practical progress on the ground. Conducting trial run of container cargo through Chattogram Port to Agartala, adding two new Protocol routes to inland waterways connecting Tripura to your national waterways, handing over 10 BG locomotives , commencing movement of container and parcel trains and forming a JV in the energy sector are some recent examples,” he added.
The Indian external affairs minister also said, “I also express our admiration and pride, as your closest neighbour and friend, at Bangladesh‘s expected graduation from LDC status: it is a tribute to your miraculous socio-economic progress, and the statesmanship of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
He said, “Let me wish all our friends in Bangladesh the very best as you mark these key anniversaries. May all your dreams come true and I can assure you that India will always be there as a reliable friend. Your marching contingent at our Republic Day Parade this 26 January may be a reaffirmation of our shared history. But it is also an expression for deep solidarity that will always guide our relationship.”