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INDIAN Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla arrived here today on a two–day visit, Bangladesh foreign ministry and Indian high commission officials said.
“He is expected to have bilateral talks with our foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen tomorrow,” a Bangladesh foreign ministry official said, briefly adding that Shringla was likely to have a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later today.
Both the Bangladesh foreign office and the Indian high commission visibly preferred not to elaborate on the tour while the Indian high commission in Dhaka issued a brief statement.
“Foreign Secretary of India is on a visit to Dhaka from August 18–19, 2020 to discuss and take forward cooperation on matters of mutual interest,” the high commission statement read.
According to officials this is Shringla’s first overseas tour since the outbreak of the COVID–19 global pandemic.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary, however, later said he was expecting to discuss various bilateral issues particularly regarding COVID–19 situation and prospective cooperation over access to corona virus vaccine being developed by UK’s Oxford University.
“We must not compare the relationships… our tie with India is historic, rock solid; it is a blood relation while economic issues mainly fixed our relations with China,”
“We have been discussing with everyone about availability of probable COVID–19 vaccines … so we will also discuss it (regarding access to vaccine) with the Indian side as well,” Masud Bin Momen said.
Shringla’s visit comes amid media speculations both in Bangladesh and India about new trend in regional diplomacy involving China while Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen recently called ties with Delhi was “rock solid”.
“We must not compare the relationships. . . our tie with India is historic, rock solid; it is a blood relation while economic issues mainly fixed our relations with China,” he said earlier this month.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary, however, said his counterpart’s Dhaka visit was not a “sudden” one and rather part of regular bilateral engagements.
Shringla visited Bangladesh in March last after assuming office of the Indian Foreign Secretary in January this year.■