Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday called on President Ram Nath Kovind in Dhaka on the first day of his three-day visit here and the two leaders discussed several issues of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation.
President Kovind arrived here earlier in the day on a maiden three-day State Visit during which he will hold talks with his counterpart M Abdul Hamid and attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh called on President Ram Nath Kovind in Dhaka. Both leaders discussed several issues of mutual interest and bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a tweet.
Both sides reviewed the progress in the multifaceted and comprehensive bilateral ties. The two leaders also recalled the spirit of the 1971 Liberation War and expressed satisfaction at the joint celebration of Maitri Diwas on December 6, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr A.K. Abdul Momen separately called on President Kovind and “apprised him of the excellent progress in bilateral cooperation and of future joint projects, including in the area of connectivity,” he said in another tweet.
“FM Dr. Momen called on the Hon’ble President of India @rashtrapatibhvn and discussed bilateral issues. The dignitaries reiterated their wish to further consolidate the existing friendly ties between the two countries. Among others, SM @MdShahriarAlam and FS MB Momen were present, Bangladesh Foreign Ministry tweeted.
Briefing the media briefing after Prime Minister Hasina’s meeting with President Kovind, Foreign Minister Momen said that she told the Indian leader that the two countries by now resolved several pending bilateral issues and expected the rest to be settled as well through discussions.
“This cooperation will ensure the stability in both the countries,” Hasina said.
She said that Dhaka-New Delhi collaboration ensured peace in the region. “Peace is prevailing in the region as the two countries are working together,” she said.
Momen said that the prime minister told the Indian President that Bangladesh was pledge-bound to uphold interfaith harmony in the country in line with its long standing tradition as “we do not consider any (religious) community as a minority group”.
“He (Kovind) particularly appreciated the Bangladesh motto that dharma jar jar, utsab sabar’ (the religion is a matter of individuals, but the religious festivals are universal), the minister said.
Junior foreign minister Shahriar Alam, who accompanied Momen during the premier’s call on, said Kovind brought with him specially made sweets and cakes for Prime Minister Hasina and requested her to taste them.
President Kovind, he said, appreciated mangoes sent earlier by the Bangladesh premier for him, saying those were very tasty and sweet .
Earlier, President Hamid along with his wife Rashida Khanam received President Kovind at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. He was accorded a red carpet welcome upon his arrival.
Several senior ministers along with civil and military officials were present at the airport to receive Kovind — the only foreign head of state invited to join the celebrations.
Bagchi earlier termed President Kovind’s visit to Bangladesh a grand beginning.
“A grand beginning! In a special gesture, President HE Md. Abdul Hamid & First Lady Ms. Rashida Hamid welcomed President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn & First Lady Smt. Savita Kovind, as they arrived in Dhaka. Accorded a red carpet welcome, a 21-gun salute, and a Guard of Honour, Bagchi said on Twitter.
The Bangladesh Army, the Navy and the Air Force personnel offered him a guard of honour as part of the welcome ceremony at the airport from where he was escorted to the National Memorial at Savar on the outskirts of the capital in a motorcade.
Later in the day, Sheikh Rehana, youngest daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, received President Kovind at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum and showed the visiting dignitary around it.
Rehana showed him different parts of the museum, originally Bangabandhu’s private residence, where he was killed in an abortive coup on August 15, 1975 along with most of his family members.
The two sisters Hasina and Rehana – survived the putsch as they were on a visit abroad.
“President Kovind @rashtrapatibhvn pays homage to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, the place which bears testimony to the life & work of the beloved Father of Bangladesh. Particularly poignant given the ongoing celebrations of Mujib Borsho, Bagchi tweeted.
“I am honored to be at Jatiya Smriti Shoudho, which stands as a symbol of valour and conviction of the people of Bangladesh against tyranny and oppression,” Kovind wrote in the visitors’ book.
He is the only foreign head of state invited to join the celebrations which also coincides with birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Dhaka-New Delhi ties.
It is President Kovind’s first trip abroad since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He will represent India as the guest of honour in Bangladesh’s 50th Victory Day celebrations here.
In a reflection of close ties, India is also hosting a number of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.