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India, Bangladesh foreign ministers to ‘meet’ this month as they look to take ties forward

The discussions between S. Jaishankar and A.K. Abdul Momen later this month will mostly be around cooperation with regard to tackling the Covid pandemic.

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his counterpart in Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen will have a virtual meeting later this month as New Delhi and Dhaka are looking at taking their bilateral ties “forward” keeping past issues “behind”, ThePrint has learnt. 

The decision to hold the virtual meeting was taken Monday during a phone call between the two ministers. During the call, it was decided that both sides will hold the next round of Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), which was last held in February 2019.

“Warm conversation with FM Dr A.K. Abdul Momen of Bangladesh. Agreed to hold our Joint Consultative Commission very soon. Will continue to work closely to reach the ambitious goals set by our leaders,” tweeted Jaishankar.

The JCC is the highest form of bilateral mechanism between India and Bangladesh, co-chaired by the foreign ministers, encompassing all aspects of the relationship from business to security collaboration. 

According to sources both in India and Bangladesh, New Delhi and Dhaka, who are “friendly” neighbours, are now looking at taking their ties to the “next level” and not involve a “third country”.

The discussions in the upcoming JCC will mostly be around Covid cooperation, said sources.

Dhaka has been pushing India to open up the borders for movement of goods and people. Besides, both sides will also take stock of the bilateral projects and put a timeline to all such projects as China is making rapid inroads in Bangladesh’s infrastructure sector.

Also read: India looking at air bubble deal with Bangladesh to get around land travel restrictions

India to also send its new High Commissioner to Dhaka

The decision to hold the meeting comes after Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla was sent to Dhaka despite the pandemic to meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which was largely seen as “resetting” ties after the controversy surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act. 

Jaishankar and Momen last spoke to each other in August 2019 when the tensions between both the neighbours was at its peak over the National Register of Citizens in Assam that came months after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s comment about illegal migrants from Bangladesh being “termites”.

During Shringla’s visit to Dhaka, both sides drew a comprehensive roadmap in which India outlined some of the key infrastructure projects, which will now be finished in a time-bound manner.

Some of the pending projects in Bangladesh funded by India that are expected to get a major push are the Akhaura-Agartala rail link, dredging of inland waterways and construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline that are aimed at Bangladesh’s development.

India will also be sending its new High Commissioner to Dhaka Vikram Doraiswami after the JCC.

Also read: Bangladesh thanks India for providing 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives


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