Your Excellency Dr. Momen,
Foreign Secretary, High Commissioner, Dear colleagues from Bangladesh, Friends from the Media
First of all, let me say, it's always a great pleasure to be back in Bangladesh, in Dhaka. For me, this is a visit after a little more than a year. But what is important is that in this period, despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic, we have remained regularly in touch. And we have made good progress in our bilateral relations. Last year, for the first time in our history, the President and the Prime Minister of India visited Bangladesh in the same year marking a very special milestone in our relationship – 50 years of establishment of diplomatic ties, the Golden Jubilee of independence of Bangladesh which coincided with the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
2. Friends, my visit today, is aimed at continuing the progress in deepening our engagement. It is in keeping with the strength and spirit of our bilateral ties. As neighbours, the regularity and the informality and the cordiality of our interaction is a very good reflection of trust and confidence. Our leaders have remained in touch and this afternoon, I had the privilege to call on the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. I have conveyed to her the personal greetings and good wishes of Prime Minister Modi and also conveyed that we look forward to her visit to India at a time of her convenience. We discussed a number of issues. We reviewed bilateral ties as well as regional and global issues. So, I am really very privileged to have met her and spent time with her.
3. Where my colleague, the Foreign Minister is concerned, we are looking forward to welcoming him to the 7th round of the Joint Consultative Commission. This meeting will provide a good opportunity to lay the ground for the next level of our relationship which we hope would be underlined when the Prime Minister visits India.
4. In view of our strong people-to-people connect, I am very pleased to note that our connectivity is today back to pre-Covid levels and we are looking at resuming cross-border bus and railway services, shortly after Eid.
5. I am also very encouraged to see that decisions taken by our leaders last year to commemorate Maitree Diwas in 18 capitals apart from Dhaka and New Delhi, the establishment of the first Bangabandhu Chair in India, the Suborno Jayanti Scholarships for students from Bangladesh, and the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition have all been implemented. These are all in keeping with the spirit of solidarity between us which we hope to pass on to the younger generations.
6. It is also a matter of satisfaction for us that trade, disbursement of loans on bilateral projects, travel services and investment are at new heights and that they have recovered the momentum which was lost during the Covid. In fact, the COVID itself taught us how important it was to have regional supply chains, value chains, so that whether it was essential commodities or oxygen or medicines or food, we could count on each other at this time of difficulty. We of course, hope to see early commissioning now of many projects including in power and energy sector, in connectivity so that all that we have done in the last few years can be taken forward. India also looks forward to a stronger sub-regional cooperation in connectivity and other areas. The energy sector, particularly the hydropower domain offers opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries in the region. India is a large producer and consumer of energy and we are very glad to work with our neighbors in that regard, including in the BBIN framework. And I want to say that India will continue to take the lead to structure progressive partnerships for production, transmission and trade in our region in this area.
7. Once again, I thank you Foreign Minister for your welcome, for your hospitality, for the warmth of your reception and I wish you all Eid Mubarak in advance!
April 28, 2022