Foreign Secretaries of India and Bangladesh on Friday carried out a comprehensive review of the overall bilateral ties and held discussions on preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in March. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides reviewed progress in the bilateral relationship, including in the areas of defence and security, border management, trade, connectivity, power, energy and cooperation in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen arrived here on Thursday on a three-day visit, primarily to prepare ground for Modi's upcoming visit to Dhaka. In the talks held under the framework of India-Bangladesh foreign office consultations, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Momen agreed to maintain the steady momentum of bilateral cooperation and people-to-people ties.
"Both sides held a comprehensive review of the progress achieved in the bilateral relationship, including in the areas of COVID-19 cooperation, trade, connectivity, development partnership, power, energy and water resources, regional and multilateral cooperation as well as border management and security and defence cooperation," the MEA said in a statement. At a virtual summit with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina last month, Modi described the neighbouring country as a "key pillar" of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
It said the discussion also focussed on preparations for the forthcoming visit of Modi to Dhaka and events relating to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. "Both sides also agreed to hold the next home secretary-level talks, commerce secretary-level talks and the secretary-level meeting of joint rivers commission before the March summit," the MEA said.
It said both sides noted with appreciation the close cooperation on the coronavirus-related issues, including India's gift of two million doses of Covishield vaccine to Bangladesh in keeping with its 'Neighbourhood First' policy. "It was also agreed to maintain the steady momentum of bilateral cooperation and people-to-people ties. In this regard, both sides noted with satisfaction the renewal of the air travel bubble arrangement that will facilitate essential travel between the two sides," it added.
In the meeting, the two countries underscored the importance of the year 2021 in the context of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh, the 50th year of bilateral diplomatic ties as well as the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Around 93,000 Pakistani troops had surrendered before the joint forces of the Indian Army and the "Mukti Bahini" on December 16, 1971 that led to the birth of Bangladesh.
The MEA said both sides decided to further strengthen the ongoing coordination to jointly commemorate these anniversaries. In this context, both sides expressed appreciation for the participation of the Bangladesh tri-services contingent at the Republic Day Parade here.
"Both sides noted the significance of this event in reminding present generations in both countries about the struggle and sacrifices of Indian and Bangladesh forces and peoples during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War," the MEA said. The Bangladesh foreign secretary was accompanied by Bangladesh High Commissioner Mohammad Imran, Secretary (East) Mashfee Shams and representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce and water resources of Bangladesh.
The Indian delegation consisted of representatives from the ministries of external affairs, home affairs, commerce and industry, Jal Shakti and finance.