H.E. Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India and H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh held a Summit in virtual format on 17 December 2020. Both sides held comprehensive discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations, and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
Both Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction over the current state of bilateral relations based on shared bonds of history, culture, language, and other unique commonalities that characterize the partnership. They emphasized that relations between Bangladesh and India are based on fraternal ties and reflective of an all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that transcends a strategic partnership. They paid solemn tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War of Bangladesh, the Muktijoddhas and the Indian soldiers, for their great sacrifices in 1971. They vowed to uphold and protect the cherished values of democracy and equality in line with the aspirations of the people of the two friendly countries.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the progress of various decisions taken during the official visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Delhi in October 2019. Both sides also recalled the successful holding of the Sixth Meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission held in September 2020.
Connectivity for Prosperity
The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the continued progress made towards the restoration of pre-1965 railway linkages between both nations. They jointly inaugurated the newly restored railway link between Haldibari (India) and Chilahati (Bangladesh) and noted that this rail link will further strengthen trade and people to people ties between the two sides. It was decided to operationalize the train as and when the COVID situation improves.
The two leaders took stock of the ongoing bilateral connectivity measures and welcomed the recent initiatives including the signing of the second addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT), trial run of trans-shipment of Indian goods from Kolkata to Agartala via Chattogram and operationalization of Sonamura-Daudkandi Protocol route under the PIWTT. Both the leaders agreed to expeditiously operationalise trans-shipment of Indian goods through Chattogram and Mongla Ports.
To facilitate better connectivity and simplify movement of passengers and goods between both the countries, both leaders agreed to an early operationalization of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement through expeditious signing of the Enabling MoU for Bangladesh, India and Nepal to commence the movement of goods and passengers, with provision for Bhutan to join at a later date.
Bangladesh Prime Minister expressed keen interest in the ongoing India Myanmar Thailand trilateral highway project and sought support of India for enabling Bangladesh to connect with this project with a view to enhance connectivity between the regions of South and South East Asia. In the same spirit, the Indian side requested Bangladesh to allow connectivity from West Bengal (Hilli) to Meghalaya (Mahendraganj) via Bangladesh.
India reiterated its request to the Government of Bangladesh of having at least one Land Port with minimal negative list between the each neighbouring states of India and Bangladesh, beginning with Agartala-Akhaura. Bangladesh side proposed that Bangladeshi trucks avail of the Feni Bridge, once completed, for transportation of goods from Chattogram port to the North East of India.
Acknowledging the vibrant development partnership between the two countries, both sides stressed on active operationalization of the recently-constituted High Level Monitoring Committee headed by Secretary, Economic Relations Division from Bangladesh and the High Commissioner of India in Dhaka to regularly review the progress of the LOC Projects for their early completion.
Both sides noted with satisfaction the commencement of a temporary Air Travel Bubble between the two sides to facilitate the urgent requirements of travellers on both sides during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladesh side also requested the Indian side to resume regular travel through land ports at the earliest
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accepting her invitation to visit Bangladesh in person in March 2021 to join the celebrations on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.