Energy, development projects and historical elements between Bangladesh and India will be prioritised during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit on 26 March, marking 50 years of Bangladesh's independence.
"Apart from these, the two leaders [Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina] will review the bilateral relations between Dhaka and Delhi," Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami said at a programme on Monday.
The Indian envoy also said the two neighbouring countries were working to finalise a number of projects, which would be inaugurated during the Indian prime minister's visit to Bangladesh.
He said emphasis would be placed on directions to take relations between the two close neighbours forward.
But the Indian envoy hinted that a Teesta water-sharing deal between the two countries might need more time. "Any water sharing agreement of an inter-river nature requires the approval of the state concerned (in India). India is working very hard on Teesta. The central government is in talks with those concerned," said Doraiswami.
He said the two neighbours had exchanged information on six shared rivers except Teesta. India will move fast about a water sharing agreement after coordinating the data.
The programme was organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at the National Press Club.
India offers Covid vaccine to Bangladesh Armed Forces
In reply to a query, the Indian envoy said his country had offered Covid-19 vaccine to the Armed Forces of Bangladesh.
"Yes, we have offered. We will be happy to provide the shots to the Bangladesh Armed Forces," he said, adding that India had expressed its interest in providing vaccine shots to the Bangladesh Army as a token of goodwill.
Vikram Doraiswami said the Indian Army had also approached the Bhutan and Nepal armies with similar proposals.
Bangladesh has purchased a bulk amount of the Covid-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India. Apart from the purchase, India had earlier supplied 20 lakh doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh as a gift.
"We were together whenever there was a difficult time for both of us," the Indian high commissioner said, adding, "That is why India expressed its determination to move forward together by immunizing Bangladesh."
Bangladesh's success 'matters' to India
The Indian envoy said Bangladesh was a special friend to India, and Delhi's friendship with Dhaka was the cornerstone of India's foreign policy.
On Bangladesh-India relations, he said, "Friendship always develops on mutual trust and respect. Sometimes my colleagues and I notice distrust in our relationship."
But the Indian envoy thinks that if the two countries can come out of such mistrust and cooperate with each other, then both will be benefited.
"A strong, stable, prosperous and developed Bangladesh is essential for our basic national interest. Your success is the best for us, and none should have any doubt about this," he noted.
Doraiswami said, "How could we be acting in a big-brotherly way? Honestly speaking, Bangladesh is a big country with 170 million people. So, there's no reason to have this apprehension."
Asked whether the growing relationship between Dhaka and Beijing contributed to the mistrust between Bangladesh and India, Doraiswami said, "India has nothing to do with China's relations with Bangladesh. It is not my job to speculate on Bangladesh's relations with other countries. My job is to discuss Bangladesh's relationship with India."
Trial of 1971 genocide 'can take place anytime'
At the DCAB talk, Vikram Doraiswami, hinting at trials related to genocide committed by Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation War, said such trials could take place anytime as there was no statute of limitations in terms of time.
"I think we should be clear about it without getting into legal formalities. In other words, even if something took place a long ago," he said.
"It is something entirely within the jurisdiction of the Bangladesh government to assess history and see how this goes forward."
Bangladesh has recently reiterated the importance of resolving outstanding bilateral issues with Pakistan, including an official apology from Pakistan for the genocide it committed during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971.
Bangladesh also sought a completion of the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh, and settling the issue of the division of assets of pre-1971 Pakistan.
India wants a fair price for Ctg-Agartala route
Vikram Doraiswami spoke on various aspects of the relations between the two nations, ranging from connectivity to trade, water sharing, border killing and people to people relations.
Asked when the connectivity project using Chattogram Port and Akhaura-Agartala route would be operationalized, he said a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) needed to be issued and the cost of goods transport needed to be finalised first.
"We want a fair price," he said.
Delhi to resume tourist visas soon
The Indian high commissioner said India was now issuing 1,600 visas every day, excluding tourist visas. Tourist visas would also be resumed soon.
India suspended issuing tourist visas in March last year in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Since then, entry for tourists to India has remained suspended.
At the programme, the Indian envoy said his country was working to support a safer environment in Myanmar's Rakhine state so that Rohingya refugees could return to their homeland from their camps in Bangladesh.
On border killings, Doraiswami said all such incidents took place between 11pm and 4am as criminals often attacked India's Border Security Force at night. "Sometimes they get killed in infighting too," he added.