Partners in progress
After the Bangladesh-India relationship has achieved new heights and saw the amicable resolution of various difficult issues, the countries now seek further changes to improve the lives of the two peoples.
The two countries, which have completed 50 years of diplomatic ties, have achieved incredible synergies, setting the stage for exponential increase in ties in the coming days, said officials after the meeting between Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban yesterday evening.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen also called on President Kovind at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.
"In 10 years we will see very changed and different countries. We are looking at green technologies, renewables in this era of climate change to create employment, IT and digital platforms, startups," said Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
"Both our countries have young populations; we are looking at dynamic growth," he said at a press conference at the Sonargaon Hotel.
Terming Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman an ideal of pluralism and democracy, the visiting Indian president said Bangladesh is a development partner of his country.
"Our partnership is comprehensive and vibrant," Kovind said when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met him.
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting, reports UNB.
The Indian president said he was happy to be in Bangladesh as it marks three great occasions -- birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence and 50 Years of Indo-Bangla diplomatic relations.
Talking about the pandemic, Kovind said Covid-19 is an "unseen power" that destroyed everything.
He said Bangladesh was the first country to receive Covid vaccine from India. He thanked Bangladesh for sending medicine to India to tackle the virus.
The Indian president hoped that Bangladesh will emerge as a more prosperous and developed country under Hasina's leadership.
Appreciating Bangladesh's support to India in different international forums, Kovind said the Bangabandhu-Bapuji joint digital exhibition was remarkable.
"And Bangabandhu Chair has been established in Delhi University," he said, adding that India is focusing on connectivity between the two countries.
The Indian president thanked Hasina for sending a very good gift of mangoes to Indian leaders.
Stating that Bangladesh considers India as a great friend, Hasina recalled the crucial role played by the then Indian government and its people during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971.
She described 2021 as a landmark year for Bangladesh as the country is celebrating the birth centenary of Bangabandhu, Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence and 50th anniversary of the establishment of Indo-Bangla diplomatic relations.
The premier recalled the historic and successful visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in March this year to join the celebrations of the three events.
"The exchange of visits between the two countries, even amid the Covid-19 situation, is the testimony of the warm relationship between the two countries."
Speaking about enhancing contact, she said the communications between the two countries through various routes got snapped after the 1965 India-Pakistan war. She emphasised the need for restoring those.
Hasina expressed satisfaction at the ongoing cooperation between the two countries in various areas despite the ongoing pandemic.
"Both countries supported each other by sending medicine, vaccines and Covid-19 protective equipment as a goodwill gesture and symbol of cooperation."
Upholding the secular character of Bangladesh, Hasina said: "Religion is for individuals but festivals for all; and all are free here to enjoy their own religious rights and perform rituals as there is no barrier in Bangladesh."
Asked on border killing, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said all the border-related issues would be discussed at higher level and they will try and work out how to resolve that.
"We have a comprehensive border management plan. Effective border management is very critical. This is something that both sides will be working on," Shringla said.
On regional hydropower trade, the official said India has just issued a cross-border power trade policy, which allows India to be used as transit point for the exchange of power between the neighbouring countries. So, there will be bar on export of power from Nepal or Bhutan through India to Bangladesh.
However, there is the lacking of border transmission infrastructure now that they are working on now.
"We also have a project to connect the 760 KV line from the Northeast India through Bangladesh that will provide scope for hydro power export to Bangladesh," he said.
Noting of an Line of Credit of $500 million, he said under this, several defence items have been identified and fast tracked. They are fairly in advanced stages of being processed.
"I think we will see certain defence items exports from India coming to Bangladesh. This is something that we would like to see essentially the entire gamut of cooperation whether it is training, exchanges, joint manufacturing in the defence sector. This is something that we would like to see enhanced."
MOMEN MEETS KOVIND
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday said based on the existing "golden chapter" of bilateral ties with India, Dhaka wanted to resolve all pending issues.
"[We do believe] it is possible to resolve any issue between Bangladesh and India through dialogues," he told the media at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel.
Momen along with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam appeared before the press after they called on the Indian head of the state.
They subsequently accompanied Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she made a courtesy call on President Kovind, reports BSS.
Momen said he told the Indian president that Hasina brought stability in Bangladesh through achieving tremendous success in socio-economic development and that she would like to extend her efforts for "stability" in the region.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh and India were on the same page at different international forums and "Dhaka wants to continue it".
"Bangladesh and India are enjoying golden chapter of bilateral ties which other countries can follow," he said, adding that he thanked Kovind for India's vaccine donation to Bangladesh amid the pandemic.
Bangladesh rolled out a red carpet to welcome the Indian president, his wife Savita Kovind and daughter Swati Kovind along with an official delegation as he arrived in Dhaka yesterday morning on a three-day visit.
President Abdul Hamid along with his wife Rashida Khanam received his Indian counterpart at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
India's education minister and two parliament members alongside several senior officials are accompanying the Indian president.
GIFTS FROM PRESIDENT FOR PM
The visiting Indian president brought cakes, sweetmeats and biscuits specially made at Rashtrapati Bhavan for PM Sheikh Hasina.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar said the PM gladly received the sweetmeats, cakes and biscuits from the Indian president, reports UNB.
India's leading media outlets widely reported on Hasina's gift of sweet Haribhanga mango that had been sent to Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other political leaders in India in July.
Some of the Indian media described the gift as "mango diplomacy" while Dhaka says it is just sharing happiness with friends and neighbours in this historic year.
At the invitation of President Hamid, the Indian president will attend the 50th Victory Day celebrations of Bangladesh, closing ceremony of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations today.
On the third day of his visit tomorrow, the Indian president will inaugurate and inspect the newly renovated section of the "Kali Mondir" at Ramna.
The Indian president will leave Dhaka for New Delhi tomorrow noon.