India expects greater momentum in Bangladesh ties in government’s new term: Verma

The Indian high commissioner pays a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud

Published : 15 Jan 2024, 07:41 PM
Updated : 15 Jan 2024, 07:41 PM

Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Pranay Verma is hopeful that the partnership with Bangladesh will achieve greater momentum in the Awami League government’s new term.

In a courtesy call on Hasan Mahmud, the foreign minister in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s new cabinet, they discussed how the relationship has acquired “unprecedented momentum and growth” under the leadership of Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi over the last decade.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting on Monday, Verma said they also discussed many “positive developments” in 2023 when we saw a number of large projects, including those involving railways, power, mechanism for trade in Indian rupees, linking the digital payment systems, and partnerships in startups.

He said India was exploring some of the things that it would like to work for the future, including areas like climate change and digital economy to support Hasina’s vision of a Smart Bangladesh by 2041.

“Overall we are very hopeful and confident that in the new term of this government we will be able to achieve even a greater momentum in our bilateral partnership and we will be able to make our development partnership contribute even more robustly to our national developments.”

Hasan Mahmud, who had worked as the information minister in the last term of the government, said they also discussed the Jan 7 election that cemented the Awami League’s power for the fourth straight term.

He referred to deadly arson attacks during the BNP’s protests for an election-time caretaker government. “It was done to frighten the people and disrupt the polls. But the election was held in a festive mood.”

“We also discussed India’s support in maintaining democratic continuity,” he said.

The foreign minister described India as the ‘most important and closest neighbour’ .

“We are working to work closely with India to improve ties. We are also trying to finish the work to set up cross-border railway and road links for greater connectivity and trade.”

Mahmud said India invited him to visit New Delhi and he plans to travel to the neighbouring country on his first bilateral trip as foreign minister.

“We’re working on the schedule and checking when it will be suitable for the Indian foreign minister [S Jaishankar],” he said.

On his first multilateral tour, Mahmud is scheduled to leave Bangladesh for Uganda on Wednesday.