50 Years of Independence: Modi to join celebrations | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 19, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:19 AM, October 19, 2020

50 Years of Independence: Modi to join celebrations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Bangladesh on March 26 next year to attend the celebrations marking 50 years of the country's independence.

"We invited the Indian prime minister to visit Bangladesh on March 26 next year. It was accepted," Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told journalists after a meeting with the new Indian High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, at state guesthouse Padma in the city yesterday.

"We would love to see Indian PM Modi join our 50th anniversary [of independence] celebrations. Our victory means India's victory as well. India will also celebrate our anniversary of independence," he said.

Momen further said they discussed the upcoming virtual meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Modi. India proposed December 16 for the meeting, but Dhaka thinks it could take place a day later as all will be busy with the Victory Day celebrations in Bangladesh.

The minister also praised the new Indian envoy, saying he knows very well all the crucial issues related to Bangladesh.

Doraiswami, who arrived in Dhaka through Akhaura on October 5, has been meeting ministers and top officials as part of renewed efforts to sort out all the existing issues, including an air bubble agreement.

"HC Sh. Vikram Doraiswami (@VDoraiswami) called on Hon'ble Minister of Foreign Affairs, Govt of #Bangladesh, H.E. Dr. AKA Momen, today, 18/10/2020. Reaffirming the strength of ever growing bilateral relations, Hon'ble FM wished HC a successful tenure," the Indian High Commission tweeted yesterday afternoon.

Momen said it is rare in the world that Muslim-majority countries solve issues through dialogue. Bangladesh, from that perspective, is a rare example, but this is not widely recognised.

"Bangladesh is becoming a leader in the world in solving issues through dialogue."

The minister said he and Doraiswami discussed a wide range of issues, including the follow-up of the Joint Consultative Commission meeting held on September 29.

They agreed that the projects involving the Indian Line of Credit should be implemented smoothly.

Momen said an air bubble between India and Bangladesh will start soon. Dhaka wants Delhi to allow travel through buses and trains as most of the Bangladeshi travellers prefer these modes of transport for their affordability.

The two sides also discussed border killings and agreed that it should be brought down to zero, he said.

Dhaka proposed the opening of the road "Swadhinata Sarak" connecting Mujibnagar with India so that people from both sides can travel through it. The road, used by the Mujibnagar Government leaders to return to Bangladesh, has been closed since 1972.

Momen also mentioned that Bangladeshi businesses face some investment-related problems in India, which the new envoy said would be resolved.

Asked about Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char in Noakhali, Momen said the government had decided to start the relocation much earlier but the UN and a number of aid agencies objected to it.

"There is pressure on us. The UNHCR and other agencies are saying that it should be checked whether the island is liveable before the Rohingyas are relocated there."

The minister further said the refugees would be relocated there in phases, adding that the island would provide them with livelihoods such as farming and fishing.


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