Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Momen today described as "rock solid" the Dhaka-New Delhi ties as he joined his counterpart Dr S Jaishankar in a virtual meeting to mark receipt of 10 Indian broad-gauge diesel locomotives.
"India-Bangladesh relationship is rock solid and is based on shared values, principles and confidence — touching almost every sphere of our lives," he said.
The Indian external affairs minister reciprocated Momen saying, "very few countries in the world share such close fraternal ties as ours".
Jaishankar added: "Our partnership today stands out as a role model in the region for good neighbourly relations."
Momen said over the past few years India and Bangladesh scripted a golden chapter in partnership under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her counterpart Narendra Modi.
"We are indeed enjoying the best of relations . . . I am sure we would be able to further lift our relations to new heights in the coming days," the Bangladesh foreign minister said.
Their comments came in a virtual ceremony while Indian railway authorities handed over the locomotives at Darshana-Gede Interchange Point of Bangladesh's western border with India.
Railway ministers of Bangladesh and India Md Nurul Islam Sujan and Piyush Goyal also joined the ceremony from Dhaka and New Delhi.
India provided the locomotives under its grant assistance programme which it committed during Bangladesh premier's Delhi visit in October last year as New Delhi says it pursues the "neighbourhood first" policy.
Officials familiar with the cross-border trade communications said the two neighbours saw the highest ever exchange of freight trains in June as a total of 103 freight trains were utilized for carrying essential commodities and raw materials.
Bangladesh and India have a total of 8 railway interchange points, of which 4 are now functioning – Petrapole (India)–Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)–Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)- Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur(India)–Birol (Bangladesh).
But officials said works were underway to resume immediate operations in one of four non-operational points, Chilahati-Haldibari route to establish railway connectivity with Bhutan through India.
Bangladesh railway officials suggest reopening of another non-functional route — Darshana-Khulna-Mongla railway link — to reestablish the shortest path to connect Nepal, Bhutan and North West India.
"This (event) would help bring our two peoples even closer," Momen said.
Jaishankar, on the other hand, said New Delhi stood prepared to cooperate with Bangladesh to tide over the ongoing difficult pandemic period.
"I am equally happy to note that the ongoing Covid pandemic has not slowed down the pace of our overall cooperation," he said.
Momen reiterated Bangladesh believes that "connectivity is productivity" while Sheikh Hasina is trying to "expand our connectivity in roads, rail, river routes and heart to heart with our neighbours".
Momen said connectivity in the region would unpack numerous opportunities for South Asia including Bangladesh and India as "the prospect remains limitless and we are happy that India partners with Bangladesh in this endeavour".
"Our two countries continue to script a relationship of 'Shonali Adhyaya' (golden chapter), guided by the progressive vision of PM Narendra Modi and PM Sheikh Hasina," Jaishankar said adding "as your close friend and neighbour, we feel happy to witness your transformative growth".
Jaishankar recalled that while paying tribute to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the inauguration of Mujib Barsho celebrations, Modi admired the dedication of the people and the leadership of Bangladesh in making their nation Sonar Bangla, as envisioned by Bangabandhu.
"Our (India-Bangladesh) partnership will be key to building a prosperous and peaceful South Asia. This will be a befitting tribute to the vision of Bangabandhu in this historic Mujib Barsho," he said.
Jaishankar said New Delhi remains a committed development partner of Dhaka as the concessional lines of credit of close to US$ 10 billion to Bangladesh is the largest India ever extended to any country.
"We need to work together to expedite these ongoing projects (under the credit line)," he said.
Jaishankar also noted that Bangladesh export to India crossed the US$1 billion mark in 2019, a remarkable growth of 43 percent in one year while he sought Bangladesh business communities enhanced engagement with India.