Defence cooperation was a key agenda of Hasina-Modi talks on Saturday

New Delhi: With Bangladesh already working on a plan to modernise its military, where China is a major supplier of key platforms and equipment, India has stepped up its act with the enhancement of defence ties between the two South Asian neighbours being a key agenda item during the talks on Saturday between Indian PM Narendra Modi and visiting Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

Hasina is on a two-day visit to the Indian capital and is the first foreign head of state to visit in the Modi government’s third term.

Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said: “The two sides in today’s discussion also discussed how the entire spectrum of defence cooperation between India and Bangladesh can be strengthened whether that relates to the modernisation of the Bangladesh Army, that also includes capacity building or training facilities exercises between the two countries, whether there are means of equipment etc of Bangladesh defence forces the Indian side could fulfil.”

“Both sides did hold extensive conversation on this and we hope to progress on this as we go forward.”

The ‘India-Bangladesh Shared Vision for Future’ document also stated: “We will strengthen our defence cooperation with a long-term perspective. In line with the plans for modernisation of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, we will explore defence industrial cooperation for modernisation of the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, to strengthen their capability for defence.”

“We will continue to work closely with Bangladesh for our multifaceted military engagements of exercises, training and capability development.”

While India has trained personnel for the Bangladesh Navy’s submarines, it is China that supplied two submarines in 2017 to the Bangladesh Navy.

These two Type 035G diesel-electric attack submarines—later christened ‘BN Nabajatra’ and ‘BN Joyjatra’—are about 76 metres long and 7.6 metres wide and can be equipped with lethal torpedoes and mines with considerable capability to attack enemy warships and submarines.

Reports speak of China building a submarine base—BNS Sheikh Hasina—for the Bangladesh Navy at Pekua in Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh’s Main Battle Tank (MBT 2000) and the Type-69 medium tanks besides an array of anti-tank missiles and rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars, towed artillery, air defence systems including MANPADS, anti-aircraft guns, and radars are also of Chinese origin.

China’s Chengdu F7 is among the frontline fighter aircraft of the Bangladesh air force which operates about 180 military aircraft including 36 Chengdu F-7 aircraft for combat aircraft.

According to SIPRI figures, in the 2010-2020 period, 72 per cent of arms imports by Bangladesh were from China in value terms, 12 per cent from Russia and 16 per cent from the rest of the world.

On Saturday, India and Bangladesh agreed to “undertake conservation and management of Teesta River inside Bangladesh with Indian assistance within a mutually agreed time frame”.

At the same time, the two sides agreed to “continue to engage in prioritising the exchange of data and formulating the framework for interim water sharing based on the recommendations of the Joint Rivers Commission”.

A Joint Technical Committee is also to be formed to initiate discussions for the renewal of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty of 1996.

Other important points of agreement include the introduction of e-visas for medical tourists from Bangladesh, a new train service between Rajshahi and Kolkata, a new bus service between Chattogram and Kolkata, a goods train service between Gede-Darshana and Haldibari-Chilahati up to Dalgaon in Assam and joint manufacturing of a small satellite, to be launched by India for Bangladesh.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed