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India, Bangladesh discuss expanding multifaceted cooperation, connectivity, Rohingya issues India-Bangladesh
Image: PID Bangladesh website

India, Bangladesh discuss expanding multifaceted cooperation, connectivity, Rohingya issues

By South Asia Monitor/IBNS | @indiablooms | 16 Jul 2021, 10:21 pm

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen discussed bilateral and regional connectivity, the vaccine situation, and expanding multifaceted cooperation, while emphasizing on resuming the activities of various joint mechanisms after the Covid scenario improves in both countries, during a meeting on the sidelines of a conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including the repatriation of the Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar during the Thursday meeting at the Uzbekistan capital where they are attending an international conference on the challenges and opportunities of regional connectivity in Central and South Asia.

Bangladesh, which hosts over 1.1 million registered Rohingya refugees fleeing a Myanmar crackdown, is now under a financial strain, having to spend nearly USD 900 million annually to maintain these refugees.

“Happy to meet with Bangladesh FM Dr AK Abdul Momen on the sidelines of the Tashkent Connectivity Conference. A good opportunity to review the progress in our ties, including its connectivity aspects,” tweeted Jaishankar after the interaction.

Jaishankar expressed his “happiness as the supply of vaccination to Bangladesh is back on track from diversified external sources, including under COVAX arrangement”, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said in a statement.

Bangladesh had kicked off its Covid 19 vaccination drive earlier this year relying on supplies of Covishield from Serum Institute of India as also the Indian government to vaccinate the vulnerable sections of its population.

However, Bangladesh ran short as India, fighting its own pandemic surge, cut down on exports of its promised Covishield/Astra Zeneca vaccine.

Bangladesh had been tapping the doors of several countries for the much-needed jabs and has now received 2 million doses of its Sinopharm vaccine from China.

It is also slated to receive 6 million doses from US vaccine maker Pfizer early next month while another batch of5 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will arrive in the country by the current month-end or the beginning of August.

However, with the Covid situation improving in India, New Delhi sent 190 tonnes of oxygen last week to Bangladesh, which is now grappling with a deteriorating pandemic situation.

“Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening the partnership and expanding multifaceted cooperation. They also emphasized the need for resuming the activities of various joint mechanisms soon after the Covid scenario in both countries improves,” the Bangladesh foreign ministry said.