India and Bangladesh have forged a unique model for regional cooperation that withstood the problems of the Covid-19 crisis and facilitated robust exchanges in recent months, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Friday.
Addressing the inaugural function of the 3rd Bangladesh Film Festival at Kolkata that Bangladesh information minister Hasan Mahmud attended, Shringla said the two countries were cooperating closely in dealing with the pandemic, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking forward to his visit to Dhaka in March to join the celebrations marking 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence.
“India and Bangladesh have together charted a unique model for regional cooperation, quite unparalleled in South Asia. The India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship has withstood the test of time, and even as the world undergoes great upheaval in the post-pandemic era, our relationship grows from strength to strength, a fact clearly demonstrated by the robust exchanges that both sides had in recent months,” he said.
Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, both countries had a successful prime minister-level virtual summit and a meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission co-chaired by the two foreign ministers.
“I was also able to travel twice to Dhaka last year to exchange views with our partners in Bangladesh. Cooperation is moving forward inexorably. Our prime minister is looking forward to his visit to Dhaka,” Shringla said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had also attended a virtual conference of leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) hosted by the Indian premier to evolve a coordinated response to the pandemic in the region.
“Following the conference, we have had exchanges and training programmes for healthcare personnel and worked with Bangladesh for supplying PPE kits, masks and test kits. India-made vaccines are being supplied for the benefit of the people of Bangladesh,” Shringla said.
A 122-member tri-services contingent from Bangladesh had joined the Republic Day parade last month, evoking the “inspiring memories of 1971, when the people of India and Bangladesh fought shoulder to shoulder against grave injustice and tyranny,” he added.
Bangladesh’s father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, played a key role in building bilateral relations and Shringla quoted from his speech in Kolkata on February 6, 1972, “This victory would not have been ours if the people of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya did not extend their unstinting support to my people…This victory would not have been possible if the government of India had not been behind us. What you have done, we can never repay.”
Shringla described 2021 as a momentous year for both countries, as Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of Rahman, and commemorating the 50th anniversary of its Liberation War. The year also marks the 50th year of diplomatic ties and Prime Ministers Modi and pm Hasina have decided to jointly celebrate these events, he said.