We know the difficulty India faced in vaccine exports: Bangladesh

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told ET that his country understands the difficulties faced by India during the second wave of Covid-19 which forced it to stop vaccine exports, including to its eastern neighbour.

“India has shed blood for the people of Bangladesh. It is a close friend and partner. We understand the circumstances under which India had to stop exports,” said Momen. He said Bangladesh has a diversified vaccine basket and that the country will await vaccine exports from India as and when they can be resumed.

India’s high commissioner to Bangladesh, Vikram Doraiswami, said Bangladesh will receive more doses of Covid-19 vaccine after the supply of vaccines in India increases. Bangladesh had started its mass vaccination drive on February 7, using the Covishield vaccines manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Momen had met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar last week on the sidelines of the South Asia-Central Asia connectivity meeting in Tashkent, where the duo had explored new ideas of regional connectivity. He said he had discussed with Jaishankar a proposal to launch a passenger ferry service through cross-border rivers to improve connectivity between India and Bangladesh. “We share scores of common rivers. Before Partition, people travelled on river ferries and it was a great means of connecting and bonding. We can explore to revive this option,” he said.

India and Bangladesh are connected via road, rail, flights and coastal shipping, which is used for transfer of goods. A multimodal transport network connects the two countries.

When asked about the impact of displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh, Momen lauded India’s role but regretted the role of the international community in addressing the Rohingya issue and warned that extremism can breed among members of the displaced community. “The international community could not deliver on repatriation of Rohingya refugees who have taken shelter in Bangladesh. And after the military coup earlier this year, the situation in Myanmar has turned grim,” he said.

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