Bangladesh and India want to launch a travel air bubble without any delay by discussing the issue in details in New Delhi while a virtual meeting of the next Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) is under discussion, officials said.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen is likely to visit New Delhi in the second week of September to advance the process, a senior official told UNB.
"The main purpose of his visit is to discuss air bubble arrangements," the official said adding that finding a date for the next JCC may also come up for discussions.
Earlier, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla invited his Bangladesh counterpart to visit India at his earliest convenience.
“Transport Bubbles” or “Air Travel Arrangements” are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at resuming commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are reciprocal in nature, meaning airlines from both countries enjoy similar benefits, another official told UNB.
India’s proposal to launch a travel air bubble between the two countries opening limited flights for official, business and medical travellers was appreciated by the Bangladesh side.
India has created transport bubbles with the USA, France and Germany.
In addition to Indian carriers, the carriers from these countries are now permitted to operate services between India and their respective countries.
The next meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission at the level of the Foreign Ministers will be convened shortly to review the entire gamut of bilateral relationship, including the projects.
The JCC will set a roadmap for taking forward the bilateral cooperation to the next level, officials said adding that no date is fixed yet for the JCC.
Review on projects will be given importance as priority issues in the next JCC to expedite the implementation process, said an official.
A high-level monitoring mechanism is likely to be set up to regularly review the progress of the ongoing projects, he said.
The fifth meeting of the Bangladesh-India JCC was held in New Delhi on February 8, 2019.
The next FM-level meeting will review the ongoing cooperation like implementation of decisions taken so far, including those issues agreed in the last JCC.
Security, border management, trade and investment flows, power and energy, river water sharing, development partnership, transport connectivity, culture, people-to-people contacts will be discussed in the JCC.
During the Indian Foreign Secretary's recent Dhaka visit, Bangladesh expressed deep concern at the rise in killings at the Indo-Bangladesh border by BSF/ Indian nationals during the first half of this year.
Bangladesh flagged that this is in violation of all bilateral agreements and that the Indian Border Security Force must be duly urged to exercise maximum restraint.
The Indian side assured that the BSF authorities have been sensitised of the matter and the issue will be discussed in detail at the DG level talks between BGB and BSF to be hosted by Dhaka in September.
India has become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Bangladesh conveyed its greater expectation from India as a member of the UNSC, to play a more meaningful role for a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, including their early repatriation to Myanmar.
In the last few years, Bangladesh and India have "amicably resolved" complex issues, including the land and maritime borders, said an official.
The two countries have taken several initiatives to boost connectivity and trade, including commencement of movement of Indian cargo from Agartala to Kolkata via Chattogram, expansion of the scope of the Protocol that governs trade and transit on inland waterways, India’s gifting of 10 locomotives to Bangladesh, and introduction of parcel and container train services between the two countries.