Cooperation in the area of security, including fencing and joint efforts to prevent trans-border crimes as well as a proposal to set up a high-level mechsm to regularly review the progress of developmental projects were discussed during the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla's visit to Bangladesh, Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.
Shringla visited Bangladesh from August 18 to 19 and held talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Masud Bin Momen. He also called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Responding to queries during the regular media briefing here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the visit of Foreign Secretary to Bangladesh was useful in discussing specific initiatives in several key areas of mutual interest.
The two sides also discussed the issue of safe repatriation of internally displaced persons from the Rakhine state.
He said the visit reflects the priority that India accords to Bangladesh as part of its Neighbourhood First policy.
Referring to Shringla's meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister, Srivastava said that the meeting centered on the importance of the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from 2020 to 2021, 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh in 2021.
It was also proposed during the meeting that a high-level monitoring mechsm be set up between the two countries to regularly review the progress of the ongoing projects, he said.
"There were discussions relating to the cooperation in the areas of security, including fencing and joint efforts to prevent trans-border crimes. The issue of safe repatriation of internally displaced persons from the Rakhine state also came up for discussion," Srivastava said.
"India plans to issue a commemorative stamp on Bangabandhu during Mujib Barsho. The two countries also propose to hold joint events on the occasion. PM Modi had paid tributes to Bangabandhu through a video message in the inaugural Mujib Borsho celebrations in March," he added.
Shringla also informed Bangladesh Prime Minister about India's efforts towards COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution, Srivastava said, adding that both sides agreed to continue their discussions in the area of vaccines and therapeutics.
"Both sides discussed the COVID-19 situation. India has provided COVID related assistance to Bangladesh and has also been orgzing capacity building courses for Bangladesh medical personnel," he said.
Srivastava said that it was proposed that the next meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission at the level of the Foreign Ministers should be convened shortly to review the entire gamut of bilateral relationship including the projects.
India's developmental assistance in Bangladesh as also the projects in the area of connectivity and power were discussed. Several of these projects, including the Rampal Maitree Power Plant, India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, and rail links between Akhaura-Agartala and Chilahati-Haldibari and Khulna-Mongla rail line are expected to get completed next year.
In their meeting, Momen and Shringla comprehensively discussed all issues of bilateral interest.
Shringla invited the Momen to visit India at his earliest convenience.
In the last few years, India and Bangladesh have amicably resolved complex issues including the land and maritime borders, said Srivastava.
The two sides have taken several initiatives to boost connectivity and trade, including the commencement of movement of Indian cargo from Agartala to Kolkata via Chattogram, expansion of the scope of the protocol that governs trade and transit on inland waterways, India's gifting of 10 locomotives to Bangladesh, and introduction of parcel and container train services between the two countries.
( With inputs from ANI )
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