Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday said both India and Bangladesh now have political leadership that is keen to forge a more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship, and the prevailing peace and prosperity of the region are a corollary of it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina have taken a pragmatic approach to further this relationship which will prove beneficial to both the countries, the chief minister said while addressing the Indo- Bangladesh Stakeholders' Meet here.
"Against this backdrop, this Meet assumes great significance as it promises to advance the mutually beneficial partnership with a focus on both conventional and non-conventional areas to ensure enhanced people to people relations," he said.
India and Bangladesh have recently signed several bilateral agreements and the potential for growth of trade between North Eastern States and the neighbouring country has increased manifold, the chief minister said.
The BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicle Agreement, the Port Use Agreement and Use of Cross Border Inland Waterways and access of Chattogram (Chittagong) and Mongla Ports to the North East of India foretell great prospect for growth of the entire region, Sonowal said.
"The ASEAN and BBIN together have a population of over 800 million and this is a huge market for all of us. We need to produce for this market by developing our skills," he said.
Prior to India's Independence, Assam and Bangladesh had a multi-model connectivity network which existed through road, rail, and water, he said.
"Tea and petroleum used to reach Chattogram and Kolkata ports through the Brahmaputra-Padma-Meghna riverine waterway as well as through railway network passing through present-day Bangladesh. This communication network immensely facilitated the economic growth of the region," Sonowal said.
"The dynamic leadership of Modi-ji and his Act East Policy give a paradigm shift to the development narrative of the North East and within a short span of time the entire region has been turned into the centre of New India's growth vision and implementation," he said.
Assam's relationship with Bangladesh is based on shared culture, heritage, literature and language, he said adding that the legendary singer Dr Bhupen Hazarika's song 'Ganga Amar Ma, Padma Amar Ma' symbolises the cultural bonhomie of the people across the border, he said.
He also mentioned the names of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and singer Runa Laila who have reinforced "our bonding and generate greater goodwill", he added.
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