This week, the India hosted a delegation from Bangladesh for a three-day visit for both sides to discuss coast guard cooperation.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) hosted a four-member delegation led by Director General of the Bangladesh Coast Guard Rear Admiral Aurangzeb Chowdhury.
According to a press release by the Indian defense ministry, in addition to meeting senior officials, the delegation will be discussing issues of mutual cooperation in fields such as maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine pollution response.
In addition, the Bangladesh Coast Guard delegation is also traveling to Mumbai and Kolkata, where it will visit ICG facilities and hold discussions with coast guard commanders. No further details were publicly provided.
The delegation’s visit comes just on the heels of Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar’s two-day trip to Bangladesh, making him the first ever Indian defense minister to visit the country.
During his trip, Parrikar met with a range of senior officials, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who also holds the defense portfolio in the government, the president, the security adviser to the prime minister, and chiefs of the army, navy, air force, and coast guard.
Both sides discussed a whole spectrum of issues including terrorism, personnel training, joint exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and the blue economy. The two countries were also said to be eyeing the conclusion of a new defense cooperation framework that would govern several key areas of cooperation.
It also comes as China continues to boost its influence in South Asia, including Bangladesh, prompting concerns in India about Beijing challenging India in its own neighborhood. In mid-October, Xi Jinping became the first Chinese president in three decades to visit Bangladesh, and the inking of 27 deals worth $25 billion grabbed headlines.
Moreover, last month, Bangladesh took delivery of its first-ever submarines from China, which are expected to arrive in Bangladesh in early 2017. Though they were refurbished, diesel-electric submarines and the step represented just the latest move in an already established pattern of China-Bangladesh defense cooperation, the move was nonetheless scored as yet another worry for India.
On Friday, in what was read as an unfortunate setback for India-Bangladesh ties, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s planned visit to India this month was postponed. Her visit, which was scheduled to take place amid the commemoration of the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to Bangladesh’s creation was supposed to see a number of deliverables, including on the defense side.