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India opens door for Bangladesh to join QUAD

President Ram Nath Kovind receives Guard of Honour in Dhaka

India has opened the door to Bangladesh to join the QUAD or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue which currently has four nations – India, Australia, Japan and the US. Briefing the media on the visit of President Ram Nath Kovind's ongoing visit to Bangladesh, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that while QUAD, as the name suggests, is essentially a group of four, Bangladesh has the sovereign right to decide whether or not to join the board at a later stage. Shringla said that the QUAD group will be keen to get the support of other countries.

Kovind, who is on a three day visit to Dhaka met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the country's Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen. The leaders discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation including the 1971 War and the legacy of Bangabandhu, Shringla said.

In a tweet Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, External Affairs Ministry said, “PM Sheikh Hasina called on President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn. Both sides reviewed progress in the multifaceted & comprehensive bilateral ties. The two leaders also recalled the spirit of 1971 Liberation War and expressed satisfaction at the joint celebration of #MaitriDiwas.” Apart from Hasina, Bangladesh’s foreign minister AK Abdul Momen also called on the President.

The visit is significant as this is the President's first overseas trip since the Covid 19 pandemic broke out. The President's presence in Dhaka also showcases the importance India attaches to Bangladesh.

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

India's head of state is in Dhaka to participate in the 16 December-Vijay Diwas celebrations, as Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of independence.

Soon after landing in Dhaka, the President paid his homage to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The MEA tweeted, “President Kovind @ rashtrapatibhvn pays homage to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, the place which bears testimony to the life & work of the beloved Father of Bangladesh. Particularly poignant given the ongoing celebrations of Mujib Barsho.”

The two countries have reiterated their commitment to boost cooperation and enhance connectivity.

Shringla, replying to a question said“As far as the next 50 years are concerned, we are looking at the future….we are both aspirational nations….even in 10 years from now, you will see changed countries,” he said replying to a question.

India Bangladesh friendship pipeline signifying cross-border energy cooperation is progressing well and is likely to be inaugurated next year, Shringla added. “We are two countries..we are there for each other,” he said, adding that there has been a steady increase in the bilateral trade which marked a 14 per cent increase last year.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Bangladesh, as the South Asian nation celebrates 50 years of independence.

India and Bangladesh also jointly celebrated Maitri Diwas on December 6. The day was observed not only in India and Bangladesh but in several capital cities across the world.

After Bangladesh gained independence, India recognised the country on December 6, 1971. Modi during his visit to Dhaka in March described Bangladesh as a ‘soho jatri” or co-traveller.

Also read: How Bangladesh outperformed Pakistan and turn into a South Asian tiger

“We (India and Bangladesh) are in the best of times though Covid 19 has created some problems for us. In the spirit of things, the visit is important though there are areas of concerns which are related to border killings and Teesta water sharing,” Retd Air Commodore Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, who served the Pakistan Air Force in 1968 told India Narrative earlier.