May 22, 2024

BSS, DHAKA:  Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today appreciated India’s stance beside Bangladesh in its democratic continuity and expected New Delhi’s support in the future course of the country.

“India stood beside us in our efforts to maintain the continuity of the democratic process, and they remain beside us (in this regard),” he told reporters after Indian high Commissioner in Dhaka Pranay Verma called on him at the foreign ministry here.

Mahmud said there were conspiracies to tamper with the 2014 elections and efforts were made to make the 2018 elections controversial and questionable and during both the events “India was on our side”.

“You all know India’s position in the elections this year too,” he added.

The meeting with Verma is Mahmud’s first diplomatic engagement after assuming the charge of the foreign ministry.

The minister said he laid emphasis on expanding trade through greater connectivity, digital economy and people-to-people contact during his talks with the Indian envoy.

Mahmud said Dhaka and New Delhi recently reached landmark cross-border trade settlement mechanism through the use of both Bangladeshi and Indian currencies to reduce dependency on the US dollar.

“It has already begun, you know. We are looking into how it can be expanded, popularised and reached out to all. If it can be done, dependency by the two countries on dollars or other currencies will come down,” he said.

The minister said they discussed the use of Mongla and Chattogram ports to carry goods to Northeast India and laid emphasis on further infrastructure development for its useful expansion.

Mahmud said he received an invitation from his Indian counterpart Dr. S Jaishankar and expected New Delhi to be his first destination for bilateral visit at a convenient time.

He, however, is set to visit Uganda to join the Non-Align Movement Summit, a multilateral event, this week.

A foreign ministry statement, meanwhile, said during the meeting Mahmud expressed satisfaction on the existing bilateral relations between the two closest neighbors and hope to work closely in the coming days.

It said Mahmud told the envoy that India was the most important and closest neighbor and Bangladesh wanted to work closely with Delhi for promoting bilateral relations particularly on issues like connectivity, water, coastal shipping, trade and investment.

“He emphasized on start working on renewal of Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, which will expire on 2026. He also emphasized on resolving the pending issues amicably,” read the statement.

The minister said Bangladesh successfully held the 12th parliamentary elections on 7 January, which was free, fair and participatory while international elections observers and media also expressed their satisfaction over the election process.

He mentioned that BNP is taking resort to arsons in the name of movements and protests and no discussions can be held who patronizes this kind of heinous activities.

The minister thanked the Indian government and the external affairs minister Jaisankar for sending messages of congratulations.

The statement said the Indian high commissioner congratulated the foreign minister and expressed desire to work together.

It said the envoy termed 2023 as one of the most successful years in Dhaka-Delhi ties citing a number of notable achievements like inauguration of a few projects related to connectivity and power.

Verma laid emphasis on bilateral collaboration in areas like climate change, digital payment system, start-up, trade facilitation and more.

Earlier responding to a question of a reporter, Mahmud firmly dismissed the possibility of engaging in discussions with those who instigate violence and anarchy in the nation.

Dialogue is pointless with individuals who burn people alive and incite anarchy, rather than practicing legitimate politics,” he said.

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