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Bangla keen on 'visa-free' movement from India and vice versa

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Describing the two countries as "Siamese twins," today said it is trying its best to establish a co-operative visa regime, while expressing its keenness to eventually have a system of "visa-free movement" of people from both sides of the border.

"More and more people from are travelling to and we are getting requests (for visas). We certainly are trying our best to establish a co-operative visa regime besides working on our missions," High Commissioner to Syed Muazzem Ali said.

The senior diplomat while addressing a gathering at the opening of the 'International Conference on Indo-Bangladesh Multi Sectoral Cooperation' here, also said, his country was working on granting five-year long-term visa to senior citizens.

"At our initiative recently, we have taken some concrete measures ... When we said, people aged 65 and above would be given five-year long-term visas ... To visit Bangladesh for meeting families.

"But, we would like to establish a regime, slowly where people from and Bangladesh could travel to each other's country, on the basis of nationality cards," he said.

Ali said if Europe could do it after thousands of years of war, countries in South Asia can also do it.

He also pitched for furthering the collaboration between the two countries, while asserting that dialogue is the "best way" to resolve our outstanding issues.

"We (India and Bangladesh) have to take note of each other's sensitivities and vulnerabilities and sustain dialogues with an open mind. We have already resolved the land boundary issue 68 years after the partition and now new areas of cooperation can be sought in sectors like trade, connectivity and in people-to-people ties," Ali said.

India and Bangladesh trade exchange stands at USD 6.5 bn and the Bangladeshi diplomat said with boasting of road, rail, water and air connectivity links, the volume would only increase.

Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar said, "Our relationship is a foundational cornerstone of regional stability and prosperity."

"We are at fortunate phase of our history and we hope there will be no obstacles to future solution," he said.

Akbar making a reference to the terror attack in Dhaka last year, said, "Everything depends on shared security and principal threat to that shared security is terrorism and terrorists, who distort faith to further chaos."

The two-day conference organised by Kolkata-based Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) and supported by different ministries of the Centre was inaugurated at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA).

"We are marking 45 years of the Bangladesh Liberation War here. And, Bangladesh has achieved growth in the last few decades through gender empowerment, which I believe should be a lesson for others to absorb," Akbar said.


Bangladesh High Commissioner Ali also said, efforts are on to open its new mission in Chennai.

"We already have three missions in Agartala, Kolkata and Dhaka. In the last three years, we have added Mumbai and one will be in Guwahati. And, our next project is to include Chennai as the fifth consulate," he said.

"I only say that a stable, strong Bangladesh is a best security guarantee for India and a friendly, emerging global power India is the best economic cooperation for Bangladesh," he said.

Minister of Liberation War Affairs, government of Bangladesh, Mozammel Haque said, "This year of 2016-2017 has a special importance as it is the 45th year of Bangladesh's independence.

"India's bilateral engagement with Bangladesh has reached a new height under the leadership of current Prime Ministers of the both the countries and the societies of both the countries are committed for continuous improvement and strengthening of bilateral relationship."

Keynote Speaker Sripriya Ranganathan, Joint Secretary (Bangladesh and Myanmar) in the MEA said, "9.6 lakh visas were issued last year compared to 7.5 lakh in 2015.

First Published: Mon, January 23 2017. 21:42 IST