India and Bangladesh on Tuesday discussed a two-year road map for bilateral ties, said informed official sources. The discussion was held during a meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla who is paying a two-day visit to capital Dhaka.
The discussion noted that in the recent past, both sides have updated their inland water protocol which also included Tripura, started a cargo ferry service and India has presented Bangladesh with locomotives. In addition, the two sides hope to finalise the Akhaura-Agartala rail link, the 1320 MW Khulna thermal plant as well as other projects which would be inaugurated next year in time for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, and the continuation of the centenary celebration for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Ms. Hasina was conveyed that her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi wanted to ensure “even in COVID-19 situation” India and Bangladesh should remain in “direct communication”, a highly placed source said. It is learnt that the discussion also focused on possible cooperation in tackling COVID-19, including therapeutics and vaccines.
Mr. Shringla also discussed the proposal for travel bubble regarding business, official and medical personnel. During the discussion, Ms. Hasina spoke about the Rohingya refugees and reiterated her desire to “see early and safe repatriation” of the Rohingya to Myanmar. The source said that the Indian Foreign Secretary and the leader of Bangladesh also discussed “security issues of mutual interest.”
According to the sources, the visit was a special gesture from Ms. Hasina who has not met any other foreign dignitary over the last four months because of the pandemic. Mr. Shringla who has been a High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh earlier was accompanied by the outgoing High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das during the meeting.
Mr. Shringla is expected to meet his Bangladesh counterpart Masud Bin Momen over lunch on Wednesday. Reports suggest that both the officials will discuss more COVID-19 related initiatives during the meeting. Bangladesh is likely to raise state-level trade barriers on its exports to India.
When asked, the sources privy to the meeting said that more difficult issues such as the protests in Bangladesh over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or China’s recent inroads were not discussed during the meeting with Ms. Hasina, adding that the “bilateral plate” between New Delhi and Dhaka was “so full” that other players did not merit any discussion at present.
Courtesy – TheHindu