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India and Bangladesh reaffirm their dedication to promoting a free, open, inclusive, secure, and rule-based Indo-Pacific region.

Photo Credit: ANI

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited India on June 21-22, 2024, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Their discussions underscored the robust partnership between India and Bangladesh, strengthened over the past decade by historical, cultural, and economic ties, rooted in their shared history since 1971. They emphasized forging a comprehensive partnership based on shared values, equality, and mutual understanding to foster prosperity and development in both nations and the broader region.

To fully harness the potential of their relationship, they outlined a Shared Vision centered on enhancing connectivity, boosting commerce, and deepening collaboration. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to advancing India’s “Neighbourhood First,” “Act East,” SAGAR doctrine, and Indo-Pacific vision, recognizing Bangladesh’s pivotal role in India’s northeastern development and its significance as a regional partner for peace and prosperity. They pledged to improve connectivity across physical, energy, and digital dimensions to capitalize on economic opportunities arising from their geographical proximity. Key initiatives such as the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement and railway connectivity were highlighted.

Cooperation in power and energy, including electricity trade and grid connectivity projects, was prioritized to bolster regional energy security. They articulated a “Shared Vision for India-Bangladesh Digital Partnership” and “Green Partnership” aimed at leveraging technology for sustainable development and economic growth. Efforts to strengthen bilateral trade and investment through a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and enhancement of trade infrastructure were also emphasized.

Agreements on water resource management, including discussions on renewing the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty and joint river conservation projects, were part of their mutual agenda. They underscored defense cooperation, including modernization plans for the Bangladesh Armed Forces, joint military exercises, and training programs. A new Framework Agreement for Development Partnership aimed to expand collaborative projects aligned with Bangladesh’s developmental priorities.

Enhanced people-to-people exchanges, support for Muktijoddhas, and cultural ties were identified as critical for strengthening bilateral relations. Measures such as the introduction of an e-Medical Visa facility and plans to open an Assistant High Commission in Rangpur were announced to facilitate smoother cross-border travel and consular services.

Both leaders reiterated their commitment to a free, open, inclusive, secure, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, with joint efforts under the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) to address climate change impacts and enhance disaster resilience. They aimed for their partnership to play a central role in regional integration under BIMSTEC, SAARC, and IORA frameworks, advocating for common interests on global platforms.

The leaders expressed confidence that their Shared Vision for the Future would deepen bilateral ties, building on the current ‘Sonaali Adhyaay’ (Golden Chapter) in India-Bangladesh relations.

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