India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen (Pic credit-India in Dhaka Twitter handle)
Amid speculations that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would be invited as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations here next month, India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held meetings with top leaders of the neighbouring country and reviewed wide ranging bilateral issues including the joint celebrations of December 6, marked as Maitri Diwas and cooperation to tackle the Covid 19 pandemic.
Shringla who arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday morning for a two day visit called upon Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Minister for Road Transport and Bridges and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader and his Bangladeshi counterpart Ambassador Masud Bin Momen. He is expected to meet Hasina today.
Shringla’s visit just ahead of President Ram Nath Kovind trip to Dhaka to participate in the December 16 celebrations is being seen as a significant one. “The visit is not only to prepare Kovind’s itinerary but it is a diplomatic one aimed at boosting bilateral relations of both countries,” an observer told India Narrative.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry in its news release quoted Momen as telling Shringla that India is Bangladesh’s best friend.
“The relationship between Bangladesh and India is sweet. We have talked about the golden chapter of Bangladesh-India relationship,” Dhaka Tribune quoted Momen as saying after his meeting with Shringla.
“In 1971, India recognized Bangladesh as an Independent country. The recognition of India, the largest democracy in the world, filled our hearts,” Momen said.
While there as a few unresolved issues including ones relating to the sharing of Teesta river water and border killings that need to be resolved, the thrust must be on the commonalities and areas of convergence.
“The countries need to focus on the areas of commonalities and where we both have agreements.. to strengthen the bond, we must look at increasing people to people connect to a sense of camaraderie,” Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) told India Narrative.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet to commemorate December 6, said, “Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Diwas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship. I look forward to continue working with H.E. PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties.”
Modi, during his visit to Dhaka in March this year to participate in the celebrations commemorating 50 years of independence of the South Asian nation had described Bangladesh as a “soho jatri” or a co-traveller in the development of the region.
Hasina. in a two minute video released on Maitri Diwas, stressed the need to enhance people-to -people contacts, connectivity and economic activities between the two neighbours.