Her Excellency Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India,
Friends from the Media,
It is indeed a great pleasure to receive Hon’ble External Affairs Minister in Dhaka for the 4th Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting.
2. India is our most important, trusted and friendly neighbour. It is also one of our key development partners. We deeply cherish India’s valuable contribution during our War of Liberation in 1971. We are immensely grateful for the sacrifices made by people of India and its valiant soldiers in 1971. We are also acknowledging their role by honouring them.
3. We reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations this afternoon. We expressed satisfaction at the progress in implementation of decisions since the 3rd JCC meeting held in Delhi in September, 2014. We also followed up on the understandings reached between the two Prime Ministers during their reciprocal visits in June 2015 and April 2017.
4. Bangladesh-India relations now stand on a historic new height due to initiatives taken across sectors, namely, trade, connectivity, security & border management, water, power & energy, development cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, among others.
5. We were happy to be re-assured that India would continue to support the humanitarian cause related to Rohingyas in Bangladesh. We thank them for humanitarian assistance provided for Rohingyas. We further urged India to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis including sustainable return of all Rohingyas to their homeland.
6. The JCC meeting appreciated the current level of engagement for security cooperation. We both reiterated the strong commitment not to allow use of our soils against each other’s interest and ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and violent extremism. We have also noted with appreciation the pledge by BGB-BSF to maintain sanctity of the international border, and that while doing so, to practice maximum restraint to bring down the number of deaths at border to zero.
7. We discussed issues to facilitate trade and investments further including progress in the implementation of Indian SEZs in Bangladesh. We requested India to facilitate the removal of anti-dumping duty on Jute and Jute products. Other trade related issues including opening of new border haats, improvement of infrastructural facilities at land ports were also discussed.
8. Water resources must act as a uniting force between our two countries. We discussed the issue of sharing of water of common rivers including the signing of Teesta Water Sharing Agreement. We recalled this statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 April 2017 that the Teesta Agreement will be signed during the current tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We sought India’s technical and financial support to carry out a feasibility study on the long term options for Bangladesh to ensure optimum use of Ganges water.
9. Our cooperation in power and energy sectors has been significant over the past several years. In addition to current import of 660 MW, Indian side agreed to supply 340 MW more electricity from Tripura through Comilla grid. We have also discussed new proposals for supply of electricity from West Bengal and India’s north-east. Our collaboration in nuclear energy, renewables, LNG, LPG, gasoil etc. were discussed.
10. Our two countries were cooperating in many ways to enhance connectivity through road, rail and waterways. We proposed some new regional connectivity initiatives, namely, (a) Dhaka-Chennai-Colombo air connectivity, (b) Chittagong-Kolkata-Colombo shipping connectivity, (c) Panchgarh-Shiliguri rail link, (d) Internet connectivity with Bhutan through Indian territory, (e) Trade route connecting Nakugaon Land port (Bangladesh) to Gayleyphug (Bhutan) via Dalu (India). The Indian side agreed to positively consider these proposals.
11. We agreed that BBIN Motor vehicle Agreement will be implemented between Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BIN) through exchange of letters keeping provision for Bhutan to join later. It was agreed that MOU for trilateral hydropower cooperation among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan would be signed soon. India also agreed to facilitate import of electricity to Bangladesh from hydro projects in Nepal.
12. We reviewed the status of implementation of LOC projects. Both sides agreed that all required formalities for implementation of projects should be completed expeditiously.
13. To encourage further people-to-people contacts, both sides agreed to renew the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for the years 2018-2020.
14. Today, we witnessed signing/handing over of three other bilateral documents which include: Capacity Building in SME, Sale-purchase Agreement between Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and Numaligarh Refinery of India. I also handed over the Instrument of Ratification for Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance (ISA) that Bangladesh ratified in August 2017.
15. We have agreed to work closely with India in advancing the agenda of BIMSTEC. Our efforts to promote mutually beneficial collaboration at multilateral fora including at the UN will continue.
16. I would like to sincerely thank H.E. Sushma Swaraj for her leadership in taking forward Bangladesh-India bilateral relations.
I thank our friends from media for their time and patience. Thank you all.