Bangladesh wants to be India’s number one friend: Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali

With bilateral cooperation extending to new areas, Bangladesh today said it wants to become India's "number one" friend.

NEW DELHI: With bilateral cooperation extending to new areas, Bangladesh today said it wants to become India’s “number one” friend and invited Indian companies to set up special economic zones and invest in sectors like automobile, power and manufacturing.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, hours after chairing the third Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting here with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, said his government would offer land to Indian companies to set up special economic zones and invest in sectors like automobile, power and manufacturing.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, hours after chairing the third Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting here with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, said his government would offer land to Indian companies across the country to set up Special Economic Zones.

Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, Ali told the media the media that he was touched the way Modi hailed the contribution of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his daughter and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Bangladesh.

“When I briefly recounted the history of Bangladesh after the killing of Bangabandhu and the return of Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister Modi responded by saying Bangabandhu had created the country and his daughter Sheikh Hasina saved it. We are grateful that he spoke in those endearing terms,” he said.

Ali said the relationship between the two countries was “forged in the blood that we shed together during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.”

“We are very happy about the outcome of the JCC. We are expanding our cooperation in diverse areas. Bangladesh wants to be India’s number one friend,” he told reporters.

In the JCC, both Swaraj and Ali reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and talked about strategic areas of trade and investment, security, connectivity, border management, water, power, shipping, renewable energy and development cooperation among others. India has offered Bangladesh expertise in civil nuclear sector and outer space also.

Talking about economic relations, Ali said Bangladesh will provide land to Indian companies to set up Special Economic Zones and particularly sought investment in sectors like automobiles, manufacturing and power.

Asked when jailed ULFA leader Anup Chetia will be extradited to India, he refused to give a time a timeframe but said it will take place “soon”.

Asked whether money from Saradha scam found its way to outfits like Jamaat-e-Islami, he said Bangladesh government does not have any information about it.

“We have not said anything to the Government of India. We have no information about it,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said India has told him that its territory will not be allowed for any anti-Bangldesh activity.

Talking about areas of trade ties, he said there are huge potential for cooperation in power sector. Ali said he has sought more electricity from India, particularly from hydel power projects in northeastern region.

“Our need for power is increasing by leaps and bounds. We would like to get more power supply from India,” he said.

On connectivity projects, he said Chhitagong port can be a major transit point for trade between for the entire region and India can benefit a lot from it.

Asked about the Teesta river water treaty, he said Bangladesh was hopeful about early signing of the pact between the two sides.

The Teesta deal was to be finalised during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee.

The Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusec from 5,000 cusec every year.

Referring to trade relations, he said India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd and Oil India LtdBSE -0.41 % were given two shallow water oil and gas blocks in Bangladesh.

Source: The Economic Times