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External Affairs Minister’s Remarks to the Media at Jamuna State Guest House, Dhaka, Bangladesh

August 20, 2019

Let me start Foreign Minister by expressing my gratitude – very warm visit, very good start, very productive discussions. Now because this is such an important relationship I want to take the opportunity today to share with all of you our perspectives on the relationship, state of the relationship, the hopes we have on the relationship.

Now you all know that this is my first visit to Bangladesh as External Affairs Minister and the purpose of this visit is both to affirm what is being a very strong partnership as well as to prepare for your Prime Minister’s visit to India in the autumn and to signal publicly the importance that they attach to the relationship.

Now in India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, we see the India Bangladesh relationship very much as a model. Our ties have actually transcended a strategic partnership and we are honoured to be a leading development partner of Bangladesh. We would like to offer all possible support to realize Bangladesh’s development agenda. This is in India’s interest as well. We believe that this is today the Golden Age - the ‘sonali adhyay’ in India Bangladesh ties and that is thanks to the vision and statesmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Earlier as Foreign Secretary and today as Foreign Minister, it is being my privilege to be associated with this relationship and to make sure that this exemplary partnership realizes its goals.

Now let me come to some specific. In terms of the objective of our visit, I would like to underline that it is very much in our mutual benefit that this partnership grow. We believe that when it comes to security this improved partnership against crime, extremism and terrorist groups is of direct benefit to the people of both countries. In terms of connectivity, the increased connectivity in air, sea, waterways and surface transport generates growth and income for both sides. We would like to step up this partnership and realize all the potentials of connectivity.

Energy has been another very important aspect of our partnership. And we have stakes in each others’ success and we have many energy sharing projects which we are discussing including private and public sector partnerships and we hope to take those forward.

When it comes to trade, we are ready to move to the next stage of our economic partnership as Bangladesh’s economy develops and matures and we will make progress at a pace which is comfortable for Bangladesh.Water resources is also an important subject and we look forward to making progress to find mutually acceptable formulas to share water from our 54 shared rivers. We are ready to make a start wherever possible.

When it comes to people to people ties our largest consular operations in the world today are in Bangladesh and we are very proud of that. We want to make travel as seamless as possible for our Bangladeshi friends to visit us. We have a very important shared history. We look forward to sharing your celebrations of the centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth and the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh.

While a lot of our discussions today are focused on our bilateral cooperation, we also address the issue of displaced persons from Myanmar. We agreed that the safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons is in the national interest of all the three countries – Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. And we reaffirm our readiness to provide more assistance to the displaced persons in Bangladesh and to improve socio-economic conditions in Rakhine State and you are all aware that we handed over 250 houses last month in that context. So let me conclude by underlining that our partnership with Bangladesh remains an example of what neighbours can do if they work together as true partners. The Government of Prime Minister Modi is determined to ensure that this partnership is truly a role model in South- Asia and for the world.

Q: NRC in Assam. Have you discussed anything.
A: This is an internal matter for India.

Q. Teesta Water Treaty Issue.
A. You know we have a position you are all aware of it. We have a commitment on that position and there is no change in that regard.

Q. Issue of Counter-terrorism – Rohingya.
A. We discussed the humanitarian aspects of that and what I discussed I shared with all of you.

Once again I thank you very much and I thank the Foreign Minister for his hospitality.

August 20, 2019

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