Bangladesh and India eye more achievements through joint efforts with a solid regional stability and as visiting Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said ties between the two neighbours are comprehensive and vibrant.
During a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the first day of a three-day state visit to Dhaka Wednesday, the Indian president said Bangladesh is a development partner of India and the two neighbours are now focusing on connectivity.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Dhaka considers Delhi as a great friend, adding, "Exchange of visits between the countries even amid the Covid-19 situation is the testimony of warm relationship between the two neighbours."
Indian President arrived Dhaka Wednesday noon to join three mega celebrations: birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's independence and 50 years of diplomatic relationship between the countries.
Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid welcomed his counterpart at Dhaka airport. Red carpet was rolled out for the Indian President and he received a guard of honour upon his arrival.
From the airport, he went to the National Martyrs' Monument in Savar to pay homage to the liberation war heroes. The Indian president also visited Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32 where he was received by Sheikh Rehana – the youngest daughter of Bangabandhu.
In the afternoon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid a courtesy call on the Indian president at Hotel Sonargaon.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the ongoing cooperation in various areas even in the current pandemic situation.
In reply, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said Bangladesh was the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccine from India and also thanked Bangladesh for sending Covid-19 medicines to India.
Noting that Bangladesh believes in secularism, Sheikh Hasina told the Indian president that Bangladesh does not treat anyone as a minority since all are free to perform their own religious rites and rituals here.
The Indian President brought cakes, sweetmeats and biscuits specially made at Rashtrapati Bhavan for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. President Kovind also shared his delight over mangoes sent by Prime Minister Hasina and said those were "very sweet and tasty".
Before the prime minister, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen and State Minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam called on the Indian president.
After the meeting, Momen said various issues including connectivity, water sharing, ongoing participatory projects and Rohingya issues came up in his meeting with the Indian president.
"We firmly believe that it is possible to resolve any issue between Bangladesh and India through dialogues," he told reporters.
"I expressed my hope that Bangladesh and India would conquer the peak of development in the next 50 years through mutual cooperation," Momen said.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh and India were on the same page at different international forums and "Dhaka wants to continue it".
In the evening, the Indian president paid a courtesy call on the Bangladesh president at Bangabhaban.
The two presidents emphasised joint ventures to boost trade ties between the two countries.
President Ram Nath Kovind handed over replicas of a vintage tank and MiG-29 warplane, which were used during the Liberation War, to President Hamid for preservation and display at the museum.
After talks with his counterpart, President Hamid hosted a banquet in his honour joined by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Bangabhaban.
At a press briefing at Hotel Sonargaon on Wednesday night, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla briefed the reporters. He said discussions that took place Wednesday between the two neighbours were comprehensive and included many areas.
While replying to a query about whether increasing Chinese influence in the sub-continent will affect Indo-Bangla ties, he said, "We do not observe the bilateral relations with a third country prism."
On Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind will participate in the golden jubilee celebration of the Victory Day of Bangladesh at the National Parade Ground as the guest of honour.
In the afternoon, the Indian president will join a programme at the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban to pay respect and gratitude to the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and to celebrate the passion and joy of the victory. The president of Bangladesh, prime minister, speaker and other dignitaries will be present on the occasion.
This is the maiden visit of President Ram Nath Kovind to Bangladesh after taking over as president of India. He is being accompanied by the First Lady of India and the president's daughter, Indian education minister, two parliamentarians, Indian foreign secretary and other high-ranking officials.