Home >News >India >Foreign secy Shringla visits Dhaka amid speculations of strain in ties

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday on a two-day visit amid China stepping up its interaction with Bangladesh following ongoing tensions between New Delhi and Beijing at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The face-off had heightened following a clash in Galwan Valley that led to the death of 20 Indian Army personnel and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers.

This is Shringla’s second visit to Bangladesh after he took over as the foreign secretary in January, as ties between the two neighbours improved in recent times. He had visited the country in March after assuming office but this is his first official visit after the suspension of international travel following the novel coronavirus outbreak. The detection of covid-19 cases in the country had also prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cancel his plan to visit Dhaka on 17 March for an event to mark the birth centenary Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the present Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Later on Tuesday evening, Shringla met Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina, a person familiar with the matter said. “It was an excellent meeting," the person cited above said adding that Shringla was accompanied by Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das.

Stating that prime minister Hasina has not met anyone from abroad in the past few months, the person said that the Bangladesh leader “greatly appreciated PM Narendra Modi’s gesture in sending someone to touch base, convey message and see how the two sides could take relationship forward." Areas of interest that were discussed included development partnership, enhancing connectivity, revival of economy post covid, and cooperation on covid assistance.

A proposal for creating a “bubble" for business, official and medical travel was discussed, the person cited above added. Shringla is also set to meet Bangladesh’s foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen and foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen.

Bilateral security cooperation and economic ties between the two countries have been strengthening since the India-friendly Hasina returned to power in December 2008. Bangladesh is, at present, the largest recipient of Indian development aid with $8 billion in concessional loans. However, during a visit to Bangladesh by President Xi Jinping of China in 2016, Beijing signed deals with Dhaka on electricity, energy, technology, agriculture, water resources, investment, transportation infrastructure and connectivity, news reports said. This eclipsed Indian investments in Bangladesh.

New Delhi has worked hard to retain its position as an economic partner of choice in Bangladesh with Modi inaugurating community clinics and water treatment plants to provide safe drinking water for Bangladeshis, besides initiating major projects like the 130-kilometre India-Bangladesh Friendship (fuel) Pipeline Project between Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh.

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