The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that during the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to Bangladesh, the discussions centred on the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020 and 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh, and the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh in 2021.
“Discussions during the meeting centred on the importance of the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020 and the 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh and the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh in 2021. India plans to issue a commemorative stamp on Bangabandhu during Mujib Barsho. The two countries also propose to hold joint events on the occasion. PM Modi had paid tributes to Bangabandhu through a video message in the inaugural Mujib Borsho celebrations in March,” said an official statement by the MEA.
It further read, “Both sides discussed the COVID-19 situation. India has provided COVID related assistance to Bangladesh and has also been organizing capacity building courses for Bangladesh medical personnel following the video conference of the leaders of SAARC countries and the creation of the SAARC Emergency Response Fund for COVID-19. Bangladesh has committed USD 1.5 million to the fund. FS informed Prime Minister Hasina about India’s efforts towards COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. Both sides agreed to continue their discussions in the area of vaccines and therapeutics.”
During the meeting, India’s developmental assistance in Bangladesh and the projects in the area of connectivity and power were discussed.
“Several of these projects, including the Rampal Maitree Power Plant, India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, and rail links between Akhaura-Agartala and Chilahati-Haldibari and Khulna-Mongla rail line are expected to get completed next year. It was proposed that the next meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission at the level of the Foreign Ministers should be convened shortly to review the entire gamut of bilateral relationship including the projects. It was also proposed that a high-level monitoring mechanism be set up to regularly review the progress of the ongoing projects,” the statement read.
India also proposed to launch a travel air bubble between the two countries opening limited flights for official, business and medical travellers.
“There were discussions relating to the cooperation in the areas of security, including fencing and joint efforts to prevent trans-border crimes. The issue of safe repatriation of internally displaced persons from the Rakhine state also came up for discussion,” the MEA stated.
The Indian Foreign Secretary also met his counterpart Masud Bin Momen and comprehensively discussed all issues of bilateral interest. Shringla also invited Momen to visit India at his earliest convenience.
“This visit of Foreign Secretary was useful in discussing specific initiatives in several key areas of mutual interest. It also reflects the priority that India accords to Bangladesh as part of its Neighbourhood First policy. The top leadership of the two countries has remained in regular touch which has helped sustain the momentum in our excellent bilateral ties,” the MEA said.