Expressing happiness that his first foreign tour after the onset of Covid-19 would be to Bangladesh, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said that New Delhi is committed to deepening and diversifying its ties with Dhaka.
"Our partnership with Bangladesh is an important pillar of our Neighbourhood First policy, and we are committed to further deepen and diversify it," Modi tweeted on the eve of his two-day state visit to Dhaka.
"We will continue to support Bangladesh's remarkable development journey, under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's dynamic leadership," the Indian PM stressed.
Modi will visit Bangladesh on March 26-27 to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the country's independence and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Indian PM is also slated to visit Bangabandhu's birthplace.
"I am happy that my first foreign visit after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic will be to our friendly neighbouring country, with which India shares deep cultural, linguistic and people-to-people ties," Modi said in a pre-departure statement released by the Indian government.
"I will be having substantive discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, following our very productive virtual meeting in December last year. I also look forward to my meeting with His Excellency President Abdul Hamid, and to interactions with other Bangladeshi dignitaries," he said.
Describing Bangabandhu as one of the tallest leaders of the last century, the Indian PM said, "I look forward to my participation at the National Day celebrations tomorrow, which will also commemorate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman."
"Bangabandhu was one of the tallest leaders of the last century, whose life and ideals continue to inspire millions. I look forward to visiting Bangabandhu’s Samadhi in Tungipara to pay my respects to his memory," he added.
Indian Foreign Ministry Wednesday said that Delhi and Dhaka will strengthen bilateral defence and security ties and "are also likely to ink a number of pacts during Prime Minister Modi's visit".
“Both sides will be signing a range of agreements during Modi's visit. These agreements will be covering a number of areas of our cooperation -- disaster management, oceanography and trade," Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the media Wednesday.
"A number of new announcements -- bolstering cooperation in areas ranging from health, railway connectivity, border development and start-ups -- are also expected to be made," he had said.
Talks on bolstering defence and security cooperation between the two countries are also on the agenda of Modi's meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, according to the top Indian diplomat.
"Security and defence is an important part of our cooperation with Bangladesh. We have in recent years signed an agreement on defence cooperation with Bangladesh and undertaken joint military, training and capacity building exercises on a regular basis," Shringla had said.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,096-kilometre-long international border, the fifth-longest land border in the world. Both countries also share historical, civilisation and cultural ties.