Bangladesh Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud’s maiden visit to India after assuming office. What’s on agenda?

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Bangladesh new foreign minister, Hasan Mahmud, is set to embark on his bilateral visit to India on Tuesday, which will be of symbolic importance as it will be his first bilateral trip since he assumed his new office.

As per a report by Hindustan Times citing sources, the visit, aimed at advancing ties and strategizing future cooperation, reflects a commitment to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

“The visit will be about building on work done by India and Bangladesh in recent years for trade, economic and energy connectivity, and preparing plans for cooperation in the future,” sources told HT.

Earlier on January 11, Hasan Mahmud was appointed as Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister succeeding Abdul Momen.

Also Read: How Sheikh Hasina’s win will affect India-Bangladesh ties

Bangladesh Minister Mahmud, who previously served as the Deputy Foreign Minister during Hasina’s second term from 2009 to 2014, is recognized for both his international network and strong ground support. His upcoming visit to India signifies an important diplomatic engagement.

Scheduled for wide-ranging discussions, Bangladesh Foreign Minister is set to meet his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on February 7. In addition to the talks, Mahmud will deliver a lecture at a think tank in New Delhi, the report noted.

Earlier on January 20, during the NAM summit in Kampala, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a meeting with Bangladesh counterpart Mohammed Hasan Mahmud. Emphasizing the strengthening ties, Jaishankar congratulated Mahmud on his appointment as Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister and expressed anticipation for Mahmud’s visit to Delhi in the near future.

Taking to X, EAM said, “So glad to meet with my new Bangladesh counterpart FM Dr. Mohammed Hasan Mahmud in Kampala today. Congratulated him on his appointment and wished him all success. India-Bangladesh relations are growing from strength to strength. Look forward to receiving him in Delhi soon.”

Previously, S. Jaishankar emphasized Bangladesh’s significance as a pivotal component of India’s “neighbourhood first policy” and a crucial partner for New Delhi’s “Act East policy,” aimed at strengthening connections between India and Southeast Asia. Describing India’s relationship with Bangladesh as a comprehensive “360-degree partnership,” he highlighted the strategic importance of the ties between the two nations.

The extensive 4,096.9-km-long border between India and Bangladesh underscores the vital interconnectedness of their economic and social stability. The two nations, linked by a porous border, maintain an outstanding level of bilateral relations. Bangladesh shares its border with Indian states like West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

Also Read: Bangladesh polls: What does re-election of Sheikh Hasina mean for India?

India and Bangladesh actively participate in regional collaboration through various multilateral forums, including SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), and IOR-ARC (Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation), among others.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated three development projects with Indian assistance through a virtual ceremony.

Also Read: ‘India-Bangladesh relations are reaching new heights’, says PM Modi

The projects include the Akhaura-Agartala Cross-Border Rail Link, the Khulna-Mongla Port Rail Line, and Unit II of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant in Rampal, Bangladesh.

Earlier during the G-20 Leaders Summit in September 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India to participate in the G-20 Leaders Summit.

According to an official release by MEA, “The two leaders had discussed bilateral cooperation including political and security cooperation, border management, trade and connectivity, water resources, power and energy, development cooperation, cultural and people to people ties. Current developments in the region and cooperation in the multilateral fora were also discussed.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 06 Feb 2024, 07:53 AM IST

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