Your Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
Respected members of both delegations,
Our friends from media,
First of all, I warmly welcome Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji and her delegation. Last year we celebrated together the fiftieth anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence, the golden jubilee of our diplomatic relations, and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On December 06 last year, we also celebrated the first ‘Maitri Diwas’ together all over the world. Today, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji’s visit is taking place during the Amrit Mahotsav of our independence. And I am confident that in the Amrit Kaal of the next 25 years, India-Bangladesh friendship will touch new heights.
Bangladesh has made remarkable progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji. In the last few years, our mutual cooperation has also increased rapidly in every field. Today, Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner and our largest trade partner in the region.
Our close cultural and people-to-people relations have also steadily grown. Today, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji and I had extensive discussions on all bilateral, regional and international issues.
We both believe that by taking lessons from the COVID pandemic and recent global developments, we need to make our economies stronger.
With the expansion of connectivity between our two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other. Our bilateral trade is growing rapidly. Today, India is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh’s exports. To further accelerate this growth, we will soon start discussions on the Bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
We also decided to increase cooperation in sectors like IT, space and nuclear energy, which are of interest to our younger generations. We will also continue to cooperate on climate change and on preserving a common heritage like the Sundarbans.
Rising energy prices are presently posing a challenge to all developing countries. The unveiling of the first unit of Maitree Thermal Power Plant today will increase the availability of affordable electricity in Bangladesh.
Fruitful talks are also underway between the two countries on connecting power transmission lines. The inauguration of the railway bridge over the Rupsha River is a remarkable step towards enhancing connectivity. This bridge is an important part of the new railway line being built between Khulna and Mongla Port under India’s Line of Credit. India will continue to extend all support for the development and expansion of Bangladesh’s railway system.
There are 54 rivers that pass through the Indo-Bangladesh border, and have been linked to the livelihood of the people of the two countries for centuries. These rivers, folk tales about them, folk songs, have also been witness to our shared cultural heritage. Today, we have signed an important agreement on sharing water of the Kushiyara river. This will benefit Southern Assam in India and Sylhet region in Bangladesh.
I and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also had a fruitful conversation on enhancing cooperation in relation to flood mitigation. India has been sharing flood-related data with Bangladesh on a real-time basis and we have also extended the period of data sharing.
Today, we also stressed on cooperation against terrorism and radicalism. To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very important that we fight together such forces, which want to attack our mutual trust.
In realizing the vision of a stable, prosperous and progressive Bangladesh that Bangabandhu had seen, India will continue to walk step by step with Bangladesh. Our conversation today was also an excellent opportunity to reiterate this core commitment.
Once again, I extend a warm welcome to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ji and her delegation to India. And wish her a pleasant stay in India.
Thank you very much.
DISCLAIMER: This is the approximate translation of Prime Minister’s Press Statement. Original remarks were delivered in Hindi.