Dhaka: Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Tuesday arrived here as part of regular foreign office consultations (FOC) on bilateral issues, including security, trade and investment, connectivity, and water, ahead of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s planned visit to New Delhi in September.
Kwatra, who is on a two-day visit to Bangladesh, will begin his engagements on Wednesday when he meets Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, following talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart, according to a foreign ministry official.
“Ambassador Kwatra arrives in Dhaka for the India-Bangladesh Foreign Office Consultations. A significant stride towards fortifying the strong India-Bangladesh partnership and charting the path for a brighter future,” the Indian embassy in Dhaka tweeted.
During the visit, both foreign secretaries will review the entire range of bilateral relationship including political and security, water, trade and investment, power and energy, defence, connectivity and sub-regional cooperation, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement in New Delhi.
Bangladesh foreign ministry officials said Kwatra’s scheduled talks with his counterpart Masud Bin Momen on Wednesday were a part of regular FOCs, but their meeting was expected to partly prepare grounds for Hasina’s visit to New Delhi.
“He is scheduled to call on prime minister Hasina, followed by a meeting with her principal secretary (Mohammad Tofazzal Hossain Miah) at the PMO,” an official familiar with the visit said.
Foreign Office spokeswoman Seheli Sabrin earlier told the media that preparatory works regarding the foreign office consultations (FOC) were underway while the talks were likely to cover all the proposed and pending issues related to bilateral ties.
This will be Kwatra’s maiden visit to Bangladesh after assuming charge as the foreign secretary on May 1 last year while the Ministry of External Affairs said it was fixed in line with the “highest priority” accorded under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.
Bangladesh is India’s top-most development partner and its largest trade partner in the region.
Foreign Secretary’s upcoming visit will further strengthen bilateral ties and impart momentum to ongoing cooperation in diverse areas.
The last FOC was held on January 29, 2021, in New Delhi.
Hasina is expected to visit India in September to join the G-20 summit on an invitation by her Indian counterpart and incumbent chair of the grouping of larger economies, Narendra Modi.
Officials said despite being a non-member of the G-20, Hasina would join the summit as a guest.
According to tradition, the G-20 chair invites guest countries and international organisations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organisation, and World Trade Organisation, beyond the member states, to the summit.
India assumed the G-20 presidency for one year from December this year.
“Our prime minister is likely to meet her counterpart on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, apparently in the last meeting ahead of the general elections in both the countries,” a foreign ministry official had said.
The host country invited Bangladesh as the only country in South Asia to the summit to be held on September 9-10 while the other non-member countries to get the invitation are Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the UAE.
The Bangladesh foreign minister is scheduled to attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi on March 1-2.
The G-20 or Group of Twenty is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU).
The G20 members represent around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
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The member countries include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.
The Bangladesh visit of Kwatra comes after the foreign secretary on Tuesday returned from Kathmandu, where he had gone to strengthen bilateral ties between India and Nepal.
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