Hasina, Modi look to foster ties further

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In a first since the general elections in the two countries, prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi held a one-to-one at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday night.

The meeting was held soon after the banquet hosted by the Indian president that followed Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, said Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud.

At the meeting, Hasina once again felicitated Modi and the NDA on their victory in the parliamentary election and expressed her desire to work with the new Indian government to further strengthen the bilateral ties, Hasan Mahmud told reporters early yesterday at the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, where Hasina stayed during her visit.

Hasina also invited Modi to visit Bangladesh at his convenience, he said.

The foreign minister also said the ties between Bangladesh and India have reached “a new height under the prudent leadership of Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi”.

He added that Bangladesh and India have multifaceted relations, and several issues are shared between the two countries. “Both countries have benefitted from working together.

“As neighbours, we have many opportunities to strengthen our people-to-people contacts. The people from the two countries are benefitting in terms of enhanced connectivity between them. We have to work more because connectivity gives mutual benefits.”

As the Hasina-Modi meeting set the tone for carrying forward the relations, Indian Cabinet Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar yesterday called on Hasina at her hotel in New Delhi to discuss the entire canvass of the bilateral ties.

Hasina congratulated him on becoming the cabinet minister again and invited him to visit Bangladesh, Hasan Mahmud said.

“We, the two countries, have been working to elevate and further expand our relations,” Hasan Mahmud, quoted Jaishankar as saying.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and PM Hasina’s Press Secretary Nayeemul Islam Khan were also present during the press briefing.

Jaishankar in a post on X, formerly Twitter, said, “Honoured to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh today [yesterday]. The India-Bangladesh Maitri continues to advance.”

Jaishankar was given charge of external affairs later in the day.

Hasina also held a meeting with Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi, and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the hotel.

“CPP Chairperson Smt Sonia Gandhi ji, former Congress President Shri Rahul Gandhi, and Congress General Secretary Smt Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ji greeted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed ji and met other delegates in New Delhi today [yesterday],” Congress posted on X with a video of the meeting.

“They discussed a wide range of topics to strengthen the India-Bangladesh bond based on trust, cooperation, and a commitment to mutual growth,” it added.

Hasina and Sonia embraced each other as the Bangladesh PM welcomed the Congress leader into her room. Right behind Sonia was Rahul wearing kurta-pyjama instead of his usual T-shirt and trousers, ready with a “namaste” followed by a hug. Priyanka Gandhi then entered and was also welcomed with a hug.

The bonhomie in Hasina’s meeting with Sonia and her children was in keeping with the long-standing close relations between the PM and the Gandhi family, which date back to the ties between Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi, who played a stellar role in the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Hasina wrapped up her New Delhi visit and returned home with her entourage on a special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines that landed at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 7:15pm yesterday.

LondonGBDESK//

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