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From border management to trade and common rivers, India and Bangladesh strengthen their strategic partnership

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen at the seventh round of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission meeting in New Delhi (Image courtesy: Twitter/DrSJaishankar)

India and Bangladesh have reiterated the importance of closer cooperation to further deepen and strengthen mutual engagement across all sectors of bilateral cooperation.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen, who jointly chaired the seventh round of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) held in New Delhi on Sunday, appreciated that the trust and mutual respect shared between the two countries has only strengthened in the last decade. ,

The ministers recalled the warmth shared by both sides, borne out of the shared sacrifices of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, that have forged close historical and friendly relations that transcend the traditional notion of a strategic partnership.

They also welcomed the further strengthening of bilateral ties with the unprecedented visits by both the President and the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in 2021 to jointly commemorate three epochal events – the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh and the golden anniversary of India-Bangladesh diplomatic ties.

"Today Bangladesh is our largest development partner, it is our largest trade partner in the region; it is our largest visa operation overseas. And that really underlines every aspect of our cooperation. And we in turn, are your largest export destination in Asia. I am glad to see that your exports have doubled to USD 2 billion this year," said Jaishankar.

This was the first in-person JCC meeting convened since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic with the previous edition held virtually in 2020. Both ministers comprehensively reviewed all areas of ongoing cooperation, including the implementation of decisions taken during the visits of President Ram Nath Kovind in December 2021 and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2021, Virtual Summit between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in December 2020, as well as the last virtual meeting of JCC in September 2020.

Both Jaishankar and Momen expressed satisfaction that despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, both countries have worked closer than ever before in every sector, from security and border management to mutually beneficial trade and investment flows, as well as enhanced bilateral and sub-regional multimodal connectivity, greater power and energy cooperation, developmental assistance and capacity building exchanges, cultural and closer people-to-people ties.

They also agreed to work closely together to further deepen and strengthen cooperation in the areas of common rivers and water resources management, IT and cybersecurity, renewable energy, agriculture and food security, sustainable trade, climate change and disaster management.

The launch of the trailer of the jointly-produced biopic, 'Mujib: The Making of a Nation', at the Cannes Film Festival; the Bangabandhu Chair at Delhi University; the Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition; the improvement in project delivery and disbursement; the inauguration of the Maitri Bridge over River Feni; the start of the third passenger train, Mitali Express despite the Covid-19. And all these really reflect the relationship that is now on a higher trajectory are some of the other landmark events that have taken place between India and Bangladesh this year.

"And of course Excellency, we share 54 rivers. Comprehensive management of our rivers and their conservation, as well as the shared environment responsibility that we have, especially the Sundarbans. These are really areas that we need to work together as part of our commitment to climate action," Jaishankar said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

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