India stands prepared to cooperate with Bangladesh amid COVID-19: Jaishankar

Underlining that India and Bangladesh partnership is a role model in the region for good neighbourly relations, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said New Delhi stands prepared to cooperate with the people of Bangladesh to tide over difficult times amid coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony of 10 broad-gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh, Jaishankar noted that the ongoing COVID-19 has not slowed down the pace of overall cooperation between the two countries.

“Very few countries in the world share such close fraternal ties as ours. Our partnership today stands out as a role model in the region for good neighbourly relations,” he said.

“The onset to COVID-19 has posed new challenges to the world especially in realising our developmental goals. India stands prepared to cooperate with the people of Bangladesh to tide over these difficult times,” Jaishankar further said.

In a handing over ceremony held today, 10 broad-gauge locomotives were virtually flagged off to Bangladesh by Jaishankar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.

The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways, Suresh C. Angadi. From the Bangladesh end, Minister of Railway, Md Nurul Islam Sujan and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abul Kalam Abdul Momen received the locomotives on behalf of the Bangladesh government.

Jaishankar said: “I am delighted to join this ceremony of handing over 10 locomotives to Bangladesh. I am glad to know that parcel and container trains have been started between both countries. This will open up new opportunities for our businesses.”

Jaishankar noted that the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Railways have been effective partners in implementing India’s first neighbourhood policy which has been most evident in the case of Bangladesh.

The minister said the movement of freight by rails has ensured the supply of essential commodities raw materials for manufacturing industries during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has also forced us to come up with innovative solutions aimed at minimising disruptions to our supply chain logistics. Thanks to well-timed efforts the business communities of the two countries who have started utilising freight trains for transporting commodities and raw materials for manufacturing industries,” he said.

“The movement of freight by rails has also ensured the supply of essential commodities and they continued undisrupted as Railway Ministry noted particularly in the holy month of Ramzan as trade through land borders face many challenges,” he added.

Talking about the recent trial run of the container cargo from Calcutta to Agartala through Chattogram, a port city in Bangladesh, Jaishankar called it a landmark development as it not only reinvigorated traditional waterway connections between the two countries but also brings mutual economic benefits.

“I am equally happy to note that the ongoing COVID-19 has not slowed down the pace of our overall cooperation. The signing of the Second Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in May 2020 has increased the protocol routes from eight to 10 and the number of ports of calls from six to 11 besides including to extended ports of call,” he said.

“The successful completion of the trial run of the container cargo from Calcutta to Agartala through Chattogram is indeed a landmark development. As it not only reinvigorated our traditional waterway connections but also brings mutual economic benefits,” he added.

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