Dhaka: India is committed to assisting Bangladesh in its efforts to achieve strong economic growth and greater prosperity, President Ram Nath Kovind said here on Friday, as he highlighted the “uniquely close” bilateral relationship based on age-old ties of kinship, shared language and culture.

President Kovind made the comments while addressing the Indian community in Bangladesh before concluding his first visit to this country.

He arrived in Bangladesh on Wednesday on a three-day state visit at the invitation of his counterpart M Abdul Hamid to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in the 1971 Liberation War.

“Bangladesh has a special place in the hearts of Indians. Ours is a uniquely close relationship based on age-old ties of kinship, shared language and culture,” he said, adding that the ties have been nurtured by the sagacious leadership of the two countries.

Reiterating support for Bangladesh, Kovind said that India will stand in support of a Bangladesh that embodies the values that emerge from the Liberation Movement of this country.

“India remains committed to assisting Bangladesh in its journey towards a strong economy, partnering with you as you proceed to greater prosperity,” he said.

He said that with Bangladesh becoming a model of growth and development in the region, the country has proven to the world that the fight of the people of Bangladesh was for a just cause.

The President noted that Bangladesh has undergone major socio-economic transformation since the Liberation War, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In November, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the graduation of Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal from the least developed country category.

“India has also witnessed commendable growth. The economic and social linkages that have been forged between the people of our two nations have also contributed to this shared story of growth and development,” Kovind said.

“I am glad that the leadership in both countries is cognizant that our growth trajectories are interlinked and that sharing of resources and experiences is the mantra for sustainable development,” he said.

President Kovind said that the two governments have also ensured that the fundamentals of economies of the two countries remain strong and robust and they have also made strong commitments to make growth inclusive, sustainable and environment-friendly.

He said that there is a huge potential in strengthening the cooperation further in the areas of green energy and clean technology.

President Kovind also urged business communities on both sides to seize the opportunity to enhance trade and economic linkages to new heights especially between Bangladesh and India’s North Eastern Region.

Stressing on harnessing the potential of youth, he noted that the focus is being given on youth exchanges and capacity building initiatives between the two countries which will help in building skills needed to succeed in this globalised world.

Addressing the Indian community, President Kovind lauded their contribution in various sectors of importance in Bangladesh.

“While you have contributed to the economic and social development of Bangladesh, you have also cemented our long-standing, close bilateral relations. You are making India proud by bringing prosperity to our region,” he said.

Stressing on the safety, security, welfare, and well-being of Indian citizens across the world is a priority for the Indian government, President Kovind said that in every corner of the world, over the last one and a half years, the government made special efforts to enable Indian citizens to return home during the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the Indian High Commission in Dhaka was at the forefront of the Vande Bharat Mission’ and other welfare activities for Indian citizens in distress.

“As we celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in India, I urge our citizens here to come forward and contribute in their own way to the cause of nation building,” he said.

President Kovind also paid tribute to the enormous sacrifices made by the people of Bangladesh to achieve freedom from tyranny.

“We salute your indomitable courage in fighting against the formidable odds, and standing up against injustice,” he said.

He also paid homage to the “sacrifices of your friends from India and the Indian Armed Forces, who laid down their lives in support of a righteous cause.” 

“I am confident that the bond forged by blood and sacrifice in 1971 will continue to bind our nations together in future,” he said.

The war in 1971 broke out after the sudden crackdown past midnight on March 25, 1971 in the erstwhile East Pakistan by the Pakistani troops and ended on December 16. The same year Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising freedom fighters and Indian soldiers.

Officially three million people were killed during the nine-month long war.

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