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Ahead of Prez Kovind’s visit to Dhaka, Shringla heads to Bangladesh on two-day visit

India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla being received by his Bangladeshi counterpart Ambassador Masud Bin Momen at Dhaka Airport

Ahead of President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to Bangladesh – the first international trip after the Covid 19 pandemic– from December 15-17, India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla reached Dhaka today. Shringla is scheduled to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Ambassador Masud Bin Momen.

The visit which is aimed at further strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh will also serve as a preparation ground for Kovind’s itinerary. The President's visit is timed with 50-years of Bangladesh's liberation, and to set the next milestones to further elevate ties between New Delhi and Dhaka

According to an official statement, the foreign secretary’s visit to Bangladesh, a day after the Maitri Diwas celebrations, will provide an opportunity to review the wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries.

Shringla, who has also served as India’s high Commissioner to Dhaka, is also expected to meet Bangladesh’s Minister for Road Transport and Bridges and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader today as the two countries reaffirm their commitments to boost connectivity.

“That India and Bangladesh are together celebrating this day, not just in Dhaka and New Delhi, but in 18 capitals across the world, confirms that the bonds are not just strong. It confirms and conveys the shared optimism for the future and the certainty that they will endure and grow,” Shringl said, while addressing an event to mark December 6, which is also observed as Maitri Diwas.

Also read: On Maitri Diwas Modi and Hasina flag next steps to bond India and Bangladesh

Maitri Diwas has been widely celebrated in Singapore, Belgium, Canada, Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, the UK, France, Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia among other nations.

Shringla added that like in all strong relationships, there have been challenges.

“We have faced other complex and troubling situations. These have been tackled, and continue to be tackled, in the framework of mutual trust and cooperation, transcending a conventional strategic partnership, between our countries,” he said.

Shringla noted that the two countries share the Bay of Bengal and 54 rivers which are being exploited to create a low-carbon footprint connectivity through waterways and coastal shipping. “Cargo, for example, can now move to Agartala from Kolkata via Chattogram,” he said.

Earlier speaking to India Narrative, Bangladesh war veteran Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury said that enhancing connectivity through roads, railways and waterways would be critical. We cannot expect that India will prosper with Bangladesh in poverty or vice versa. The future of India and Bangladesh are tied and intertwined with each other,” he said.

After Bangladesh gained independence, India was the first to recognise the country on December 6, 1971.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Dhaka in March to participate in celebrations commemorating 50 years of independence of the South Asian nation described Bangladesh as a “soho jatri” or a co-traveller in the development of the region.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on December 6, stressed the need to enhance people-to -people contact, connectivity and economic activities between the two neighbours that share a 4,096-km long border—the fifth longest in the world.