Dhaka, Dec 16: Bangladesh will soon get some defence items from India under US$ 500 million line of credit (LoC) that had been extended to Bangladesh for purchasing defence equipment.
“I’m told that under this Line of Credit several items have been identified and fast-tracked. They are fairly in advance stages of the process,” said Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla while responding to a question at a media briefing at a city hotel on Wednesday night.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami conducted the briefing that highlighted various aspects of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s first day engagement in Dhaka.
Joint Secretary (Bangladesh-Myanmar) at the Ministry of External Affairs Smita Pant and Director Rajesh Uike were, among others, present.
Shringla, who served in Dhaka as India’s High Commissioner, said they will see some defence items being exported and coming to Bangladesh. “This is something we would like to see.”
The Foreign Secretary also highlighted the potential of joint manufacturing in the defence sector which is also something they want to see enhanced.
The US$ 500-million Line of Credit was first announced by India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in 2017.
Responding to a question, Shringla said they do not look at their relationship with Bangladesh in the prism of a third country and preferred not to comment on any issue that involves any third country.
“We deal with each other on a bilateral basis. We’re close friends. We’re neighbours. We cooperate in a wide range of areas. I hesitate to speak about what third countries are doing,” he said.
The Indian Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh and India have reached the high point of a relationship.
Responding to a question on Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), a strategic platform of the United States, India, Japan and Australia, Shringla said the idea is to work with the countries in the Indo-Pacific region to provide them to with the means to attain the common vision of a free, open, transparent and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
“Obviously, the idea is we work with the countries,” he said, adding that it is Bangladesh’s sovereign decision to make but the nature of Quad is such that they want to work with other countries in partnership. “In that partnership, I think Bangladesh is an important partner.”
As far as Quad is concerned, Shringla said, the name itself suggests there are four countries and at this point of time obviously there is no talk of anything.
“Essentially, the thing is that these four countries have to work with other countries in the Indo-Pacific in a positive, constructive and cooperative manner,” he said, highlighting the activities whether it is on vaccines, cooperation in climate change, new technology or other areas.
Asked whether there is any meeting planned with the opposition leaders, Shringla recalled the then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Bangladesh in 2013 when he invited the opposition leader Khaleda Zia and others to come and meet. “The fact is that the meeting didn’t take place…..”
He said this time is a ceremonial occasion which is a very significant, unique and special event and in this visit they are looking at commemorative events only.
President Kovind is on a three-day state visit to Bangladesh which is his first since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
He is scheduled to witness the Victory Day parade and attend the Victory Day reception hosted by the President of Bangladesh to mark the conclusion of “Mujib Borsho” celebrations on Thursday.
In his meetings on Wednesday, the Indian President congratulated the government and people of Bangladesh on the historic occasion of Mujib Borsho, 50th anniversary of Liberation of Bangladesh and 50 years of India-Bangladesh bilateral relations.
He said the Liberation War of Bangladesh was an inspiring episode in recent history and India was honoured to be a part of it.
President Kovind said that, 50 years ago, Bangladesh India began a special friendship which was laid in commonalities of language, kinship, religion and cultural ethos as well as mutual respect.
The President reiterated that Bangladesh has a special place in India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy.
He said India’s development partnership with Bangladesh is one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging ones. “At the same time, our relationship is mature enough to handle the most complex of problems.”
Speaking about trade and connectivity, the Indian President said connectivity forms an important pillar of India-Bangladesh relations.
He was happy to note that Bangladesh is one of India’s largest trade partners and said India looks forward to a more organised and seamless trade between the two countries.
The President noted that there is a lot of scope in partnering in areas like space, nuclear technology, defence, pharmaceuticals and other advanced science and technology fields.