India and Bangladesh on Sunday vowed to work closely to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of trade, common rivers, cyber security, renewable energy and food security, with both sides appreciating the "trust and mutual respect" in their fast-expanding relations.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his visiting counterpart A K Abdul Momen carried out a comprehensive review of the ties and held that the partnership between the two countries is a "role model" for bilateral and regional cooperation.
"Our ties today reflect the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We are truly at a 'shonali adhyaya' (golden chapter)," Jaishankar said in his opening remarks at the seventh round of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC).
The external affairs minister also appreciated Bangladesh's "splendid economic performance".
He said India is looking forward to working with Bangladesh in the areas of artificial intelligence, cyber security, start-ups and fintech, and even offered help to the neighbouring country in the management of floods.
"A role model for bilateral and regional cooperation, the ministers appreciated that the trust and mutual respect shared between the two countries have only strengthened in the last decade," a joint press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
It said both sides reiterated the importance of safe, speedy and sustainable return of the forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar, currently being sheltered by Bangladesh.
The press statement said Jaishankar and Momen expressed satisfaction that despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have worked closer than ever before in every key sector including border management, energy security, trade and investment, connectivity, capacity building and people-to-people ties.
"The two ministers agreed to work closely together to further deepen and strengthen cooperation in the areas of common rivers and water resources management, IT and cyber security, renewable energy, agriculture and food security, sustainable trade, climate change and disaster management," it said.
The ministers welcomed the further strengthening of bilateral ties with the "unprecedented visits" by both the President and the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in 2021 to jointly commemorate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence.
In his opening remarks, Jaishankar said that better management of the long border between the two countries is a key priority.
"Our border guarding forces are committed to combating trans-border crimes. We must continue to work together to make sure that the border remains crime-free," he said.
"Today Bangladesh is our largest development partner, it is our largest trade partner in the region; it is our largest visa operation overseas. And that really underlines every aspect of our cooperation. And we, in turn, are your largest export destination in Asia," he added.
Jaishankar said he was glad to see that Bangladesh's exports have doubled to USD 2 billion this year.
Jaishankar also touched upon issues relating to regional cooperation in the areas of connectivity, trade and power.
"On a larger landscape, we both have a commitment to a prosperous and connected sub-region. We have been working together on a BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicles Agreement. And we also look at sub-regional cooperation in power, especially hydropower," he said.
"We are both the largest producer and consumer of energy in the region. And we would be very happy to work with Bangladesh to structure a progressive partnership in the areas of production, transmission and trade. I would also like to congratulate you for your overall very splendid economic performance," he added.
(with inputs from PTI)