India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday lauded Bangladesh for graduating from the 'Least Developed Country' status and said that India will always be at its side as a "reliable friend".The EAM spoke in Dhaka where he is preparing with his counterpart for the planned visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi this year to mark "Mujib Barsho", 50 years of Bangladesh's Liberation and 50 years of the bilateral relationship.Expressing admiration and pride, Jaishankar said that it is truly a tribute to Bangladesh's miraculous socio-economic progress, and a reflection of the statesmanship and leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (daughter of Bangobandhu Mujibur Rehman) that the UN has recommended Bangladesh's graduation from LDC status.Jaishankar said that India and Bangladesh relations transcend even the strategic partnership. The bonding between the two countries, he said, is central to the realization of a dream of a peaceful, prosperous and progressive South Asia."It is in pursuit of this vision that both sides have made remarkable progress in our relationship, especially since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assumption of office in May 2014," he added.
The significance of the ties is in India's 'Neighbourhood First' Policy and growing relevance for 'Act East' Policy. "We see Bangladesh as a key neighbour and a valued partner not only in South Asia but also in the broader Indo-Pacific region."Every outcome and achievement in our relationship resonates through this region. It is no secret that we cite it to others as an example for emulation."And that is why India is working so hard to expand its relationship in all dimensions, ranging from security, trade, transport and connectivity, culture, people to people ties, energy, joint development of our shared resources and defence. "Our comfort levels are now so high that we have shown that there is no issue that we cannot discuss and resolve through amicable dialogue."Our recent activities go beyond consultations and gestures, however, important they might be, he said. "We have made practical progress on the ground. Conducting a trial run of container cargo through Chattogram Port to Agartala, adding two new Protocol routes to inland waterways connecting Tripura to your national waterways, handing over 10 BG locomotives, commencing movement of container and parcel trains and forming a JV in the energy sector. These are but some recent examples."He concluded by recalling that Bangladeshi marching contingent at India's Republic Day Parade this January 26, is a reaffirmation of the shared history of the two countries. "But I can also say that it is an expression of our deep solidarity that will always guide this relationship," he added.