Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday left for India on a three-day visit during which he will meet top leaders of that country, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to reiterate Dhaka's firm commitment to taking the diplomatic relationship forward.
Momen, the newly-appointed foreign minister, is the first senior Bangladeshi minister travelling to New Delhi since Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League returned to power for the third consecutive term. He will attend the 5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting.
Diplomatic sources said the foreign minister is carrying a special message from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to convey to Narendra Modi about Bangladesh continuing to work together with India to further consolidate peace and stability.
They said Momen is carrying some gifts from Hasina, including a special sweetmeat, which he will handover to the Indian PM at his official residence in New Delhi around 10:00am today.
Dhaka acknowledged that Modi was the first foreign leader to greet his Bangladesh counterpart Hasina soon after the December 30 election results were announced.
Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said Momen's visit to Delhi ahead of the Indian national election was significant since the Modi government was giving the narrative that the BJP had achieved absolute success in making its eastern border peaceful and secured through establishing a special relationship with Bangladesh.
India's next general election is expected to begin from the beginning of April and the country will hold it in five to six phases which are to conclude in mid-May.
Official sources said Foreign Minister Momen, who made a stop over at Kolkata, left for New Delhi last night and to begin his official engagement by first meeting with Narendra Modi today morning.
Momen is expected to later meet senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, officials said.
Momen will also meet India's Urban Development and Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, a retired diplomat who served as India's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York when Momen was Bangladesh's PR there. Puri will host dinner for the visiting Bangladesh Foreign Minister today.
Momen will also have a private meeting with another retired Indian diplomat Ashok Mukherjee at his Taj Palace hotel suite today.
During the meetings with Indian leadership, Bangladesh will seek more Indian support to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“Among other things, we want to consult with my counterpart about the early resolution of the Rohingya crisis as it may affect regional stability,” the foreign minister told the BSS yesterday.
Our New Delhi correspondent added that Bangladesh and India will sign five Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) there on Friday, including one on the cooperation between anti-corruption agencies of the two countries and another on construction of a special economic zone near Mongla port by Mumbai-headquartered private real estate giant Hiranandani group.
The MoUs will be inked after Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen co-chairs the fifth meeting of the JCC with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj at the Jawahar Bhavan tomorrow.
The MoU between the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh and the Central Bureau of Investigation of India is aimed at facilitating exchanges of expertise in anti-graft probing and tracking down of cross-border movement of economic offenders of the two countries, officials here said today.
The MoU on building of the SEZ by the Hiranandani group, which operates both in residential and commercial assets spaces, near Mongla is considered significant because, officials said, it is the first time that an Indian entity will undertake such a project in Bangladesh near a key port to which India has been seeking access in order to reach closer to South East Asia under its “Act East” policy.
The other three MoUs will be signed in the area of traditional medicine between Bangladesh Health Ministry and the Ayush Department of India, training of civil service officers of Bangladesh in India and cooperation between Prasar Bharati, which supervises India's state-owned Doordarshan and All India Radio, and Bangladesh Television.
A joint Bangladesh-India statement is expected to be issued soon after the JCC meeting which will deal with the entire range of bilateral ties.
Tomorrow, Momen will join counterpart Sushma Swaraj for lunch and then call on former President Pranab Mukherjee at the latter's residence. In between, Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi will host a dinner tomorrow in honour of the foreign minister and his delegation.
Abdul Momen will return to Dhaka on Saturday morning.