The meeting holds special importance as the foreign secretary has not traveled abroad in recent times after the COVID pandemic has set in globally. FS Shringla was also accompanied by the Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das during his meeting with the Bangladesh Prime minister.
Sources said that the Bangladesh Prime minister ‘Greatly appreciated Indian Prime minister’s gesture in sending someone to touch base, convey the message, and see how the two sides could take the relationship forward.”
Over the meeting various aspects of the bilateral relationship were discussed including development partnership, enhancing connectivity, revival of economy post Covid and cooperation on COVID assistance. The foreign secretary also discussed therapeutics and vaccine in fight against corona, and joint commemoration of ‘Mujib Barsho’ ( the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) with the Bangladeshi Prime minister.
Sources said that both the side have discussed the proposal for Joint Consultative Commission at Foreign Minister Level to be convened virtually soon to oversee relationship, especially projects. The meeting will be led by Foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Bangladeshi Counterpart AK Abdul Momen on the respective side.
The Bangladeshi Prime minister expressed gratefulness over the supply of locomotives to her country. India has provided 10 railway locomotives to Bangladesh in July as grant assistance, The move was part of a sharpened focus on India’s “neighborhood first” policy, with New Delhi unveiling several moves in recent days to boost economic activity and help countries in the region cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The discussion also hovered around India’s proposal for a travel bubble with Bangladesh for business, official and medical travel. As part of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission, the air bubbles have been proposed with the neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.
Bangladesh is India’s largest trading partner in South Asia and largest development partner with a project portfolio of uniquely concessional lines of credit of close to US$ 10 billion which is also the largest India has extended to any country.
FS Shringla also discussed the Security related issues of mutual interest with PM Hasina. The Bangladeshi Prime minister also spoke about the Rohingya issue and their possible safe repatriation to Myanmar.
Report by Abhishek Jha