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Countering Foreign Interference: Hasina Sends Crucial Message to India

© Photo : Social MediaBangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Indian PM Narendra Modi
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Indian PM Narendra Modi - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.07.2024
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Dinesh Tripathi, who is on a four-day visit to Bangladesh, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday, according to an official statement. Tripathi also met the country's top military leadership.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has insisted her country has a right to military co-operation with its neighbours.
Hasina met with Indian Navy Chief Admiral Dinesh Tripathi in Dhaka on Tuesday. They agreed that the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) should remain "peaceful" and free from "disturbance."
The outcome of the talks between the two delegations was announced by Hasina's Press Secretary Nayeemul Islam Khan.
"If the Bangladesh Navy seeks any cooperation, the Indian Navy has no option to say 'no' to the Bangladesh Navy," Khan quoted Tripathi as telling Hasina during the meeting, which came ahead of Hasina's upcoming visit to China.
Talking to Sputnik India, Hasina's former press advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said the two nations understood each other's "mutual concerns" and respected relevant "sensitivities". He noted that both countries share a "historical relationship", dating back to the 1971 War of Liberation.

"Bangladesh's position has been consistent and clear," Chowdhury said. "We want our neighbourhood, the Indian and Pacific Oceans to be stable and peaceful, devoid of any confrontation and external interference."

"We understand that peace in the region is a prerequisite for development of the littoral states, he continued. "Managing geopolitical tensions unnecessarily diverts resources away from developmental purposes and are a major drag on the political capital of not only the countries involved, but also of others in the region."
Chowdhury said Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a "mutual understanding" of each other's positions. Both have known each other for a decade and political continuity in both the countries has fostered confidence between them, he pointed out.
The former spokesman stressed that Bangladesh is concerned about the spillover of ethnic separatist insurgencies in Myanmar onto its territory.
But Chowdhury noted that the "tensions" around St Martin's Island have been reduced, largely due to diplomatic efforts of the Hasina government.
Eariler, Hasina had claimed that there were ongoing efforts to create a "Christian state like East Timor" from parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. She added that a "white man" had offered her problem-free re-election if she allowed a foreign military base to be built on the territory.
At the time, experts told Sputnik India that the US had long been seeking to establish a base on St Martin's Island in the Bay of Bengal.

"As far as India is concerned, it is the resident power in the region. It has extra responsibilities on its shoulders to maintain peace and stability in the region. Bangladesh expects India to fulfil this role and keep the region free from foreign interference, which would foster peace and friendly relations among countries in the region," Chowdhury said, without directly naming the US.

India's Concerns around China-Bangladesh Relations

India has ongoing concerns around China's growing presence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region, where New Delhi considers itself to be the "resident power" and a "net security provider".
New Delhi has been looking to strengthen its defence, connectivity and economic links with Bangladesh against the growing influence of China, which ranks as Dhaka's biggest trading partner.
After the Hasina-Modi talks last month, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra announced that New Delhi would be sending a "technical" delegation to its neighbouring country for talks on the management of the Teesta River, one of the 54 rivers shared by the two nations.
The announcement came after Hasina asked Beijing to finance the project on "easier terms". A final decision on the Teesta project is expected in coming weeks.
During Hasina's visit, the two states also agreed to "explore" defence-industrial cooperation for the modernisation of the Bangladesh forces, the joint statement reads.
India has affirmed that Bangladesh is at the "converging point" of its Neighbourhood First, Act East and SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) policies as well as the Indo-Pacific vision.
Chowdhury said that the Modi-Hasina Summit last month should have helped in easing India's concerns vis-a-vis Bangladesh-China ties.

"India has been and continues to be our historical partner. This relationship will continue to be priortised over other relationships. On the other hand, Bangladesh views China as a strong developmental partner. There shouldn't be any misunderstanding or confusion on the Indian side," Hasina's former advisor concluded.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, watches his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina wave to the media before their meeting in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. - Sputnik India, 1920, 20.12.2023
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