India is following a policy of neighbours first, and among the neighbours Bangladesh is foremost, says external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on the last day of her Bangladesh visit
Dhaka: India will resolve all irritants in ties with Bangladesh with sincerity, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said Monday as she inaugurated 15 Indian-assisted development projects worth about $8.7 million.
On the last day of her Bangladesh visit, Swaraj lit the ceremonial lamp to mark the opening of the sprawling new chancery complex of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
The new mission complex at Dhaka’s Baridhara diplomatic enclave includes the high commission that was previously operating from a house in the Gulshan area of the city.
During the ceremony, she also launched 15 development projects being funded by India in Bangladesh, which officials said have been planned as per the country’s geographical spread, socio-economic benefits and priorities.
“India is following a policy of neighbours first, and among the neighbours Bangladesh is foremost," Swaraj said at the function, describing bilateral relations as having gone beyond a strategic partnership. She said the relations between the neighbours are now outstanding, and that both countries are working to resolve these irritants in the spirit of “friendly relations and with right intention".
She did not specify the nature of the issues, but the water sharing of common rivers, particularly the Teesta, has long been pending between the two neighbours. “I can assure you we [both countries] will solve all irritants with sincerity," she said. She said Bangladesh comes first among all of India’s neighbours as part of the neighbourhood policy adopted by her government.
She also referred to the peaceful solution of the land boundary as well as maritime boundary issues. The development projects, worth about $8.7 million, are in the areas of education, health care, information technology, water supply, and social welfare. They include installation of 11 water treatment plants in southwestern coastline of Pirozpur to benefit some 150,000 people, 36 community clinics, and reconstruction of Dhaka’s historic Ramna Kali Temple which was destroyed by invading Pakistani troops in the 1971 liberation war.
Bangladesh’s foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali, health minister Mohamad Nasim, and prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s political affairs adviser HT Imam, among others, were also present at the ceremony.
Sushma also gifted books, computers, multimedia equipment to Hindi and Sanskrit department of University of Dhaka, Chittagong and Rajshahi. The new Indian chancery complex has been constructed on a 5-acre plot of land. Apart from the chancery, the complex consists of the residence of the Indian High Commissioner, a housing block, a sports complex, and a multipurpose recreation hall.
The staff members of the high commission shifted to the housing block in 2004 and the chancery started functioning from its new premises from October last year.
Swaraj arrived in Bangladesh Sunday for the annual meeting of the India-Bangladesh joint consultative commission with her counterpart AH Mahmood Ali. “We are both determined to protect our societies from the threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels," Swaraj said after talks with Ali.
“We discussed the common challenges that we are faced with today. One such challenge is that of terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and we will continue to fight this scourge together and along with other like-minded countries," she said. Swaraj returned to New Delhi today wrapping up her two- day Dhaka visit, her second since assuming office in 2014.
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