BSS-55 Modi phones Sheikh Hasina, pledges to work together to boost food production





Modi phones Sheikh Hasina, pledges to work together to boost food production

(updates with Modi’s tweet and Indian statement)

DHAKA, April 29, 2020 (BSS) – Dhaka and New Delhi today pledged to work together to boost food production to offset the possible food crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina this afternoon.

“The Indian premier phoned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina around 5:50 pm and extended Bangla Nabo Barsho and Ramadan greetings to her and the people of Bangladesh,” PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told BSS.

The Bangladesh prime minister also extended Ramadan greetings to Narendra Modi and the people of India, the press secretary said.

During the 12-minute telephonic conversation, he said, both the leaders mentioned that their governments have taken initiatives to increase food production to face the possible food crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If needed we’ll work together to this end, the two premiers said.

Sheikh Hasina said various international organisations including the United Nations have expressed apprehension that the situation may linger.

“So, all the countries of the region will’ve to work in unison to deal with the situation,” she said.

The two leaders appreciated the steps taken by both the countries to combat the pandemic and reiterated their commitment to work together to this end.

Both the premiers also agreed to advance the initiatives that the SAARC countries took to fight the COVID-19 in a videoconference held last month in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sheikh Hasina extended her thanks to Narendra Modi for sending medicines and other medical equipment to Bangladesh to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indian prime minister paid tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the occasion of his birth centenary, the press secretary said.

Meanwhile, BSS correspondent from New Delhi said minutes after his talks with the Bangladesh premier, Modi in a tweet message mentioned that he discussed with Sheikh Hasina about COVID-19 situation and the ways India and Bangladesh can collaborate in the fight against the pandemic.

“Spoke to PM Sheikh Hasina to greet her & the people of Bangladesh on the Holy Month of Ramzan…We discussed COVID-19 situation & ways India and Bangladesh can collaborate in the fight against it,” Modi said in the message.

The Indian premier added: “Our relationship with Bangladesh will continue to be one of our highest priorities.”

Meanwhile, an official statement issued in New Delhi said the two leaders discussed the regional situation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and briefed each other about the steps being taken to mitigate its effects in their respective countries.

It added that both the leaders expressed happiness at the progress made in implementing the special arrangements agreed on March 15 between the leaders of the SAARC countries.

The Indian premier thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her contribution of USD 1.5 million to the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the statement said.

“The Bangladesh premier thanked Prime Minister Modi for taking lead in coordinating efforts to combat COVID-19 in the region and for supplying aid to Bangladesh, both in terms of medical supplies and capacity building,” it said.

“Both the leaders expressed satisfaction at continuation of supply of essential items across the border through road, rail, inland waterways and air,” the statement reads.

During the discussion, it said, the Indian Prime Minister recalled the shared bonds of history, culture, language and fraternal ties and expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations between the two countries.

“The premier ensured India’s readiness to help Bangladesh in containing the spread of COVID-19 and in mitigating the health and economic impact of the pandemic,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Modi conveyed his best wishes for the good health and well-being of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and all the friendly people of Bangladesh, in this historic Mujib Barsho, the statement added.

BSS/AIM/SH/ARS/2301 hrs