The top leaders of the two neighboring nations have agreed on a speedy finalisation of the concerned projects to utilise the USD 500 million loan provided by India for Bangladesh's defence sector.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, in a meeting on 6 September in New Delhi, reiterated their commitments to take forward defence and security cooperation.

The joint statement of two prime ministers reflected the issue of strengthening cooperation on defence and security fronts. India expressed satisfaction as Bangladesh finalised the list of vehicles to be purchased for the Bangladesh Armed Forces under the loan facility.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on Thursday wrapping up her four-day state visit to India.

Bangladesh signed a deal with India on 4 September to purchase seven floating bridges at a cost of USD1.1 million under the loan agreement. Besides, Bangladesh handed over a list of defence equipment to be purchased under the facility.

Indian external affairs secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Tuesday that the first formal document under the defence loan agreement has been signed at the beginning of the week. He described it as a significant step though the signed document covers only a fraction of the total loan.

According to diplomatic sources in Delhi, Bangladesh provided a purchase list of military hardware under the loan agreement. The list includes bridge layer tanks, floating bridges, trucks and mine protective vehicles. The deal, which was signed on 4 September, is part of the list provided by Bangladesh.

Earlier in April, 2017, the two neighboring nations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation, after a meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi in Delhi. India then declared to provide USD 500 million in loans under the cooperation deal.

This time, the joint statement of two leaders noted that they have reiterated their strong commitment to prevent the spread of terrorism, militancy and fundamentalism in South Asia and beyond.

The diplomatic sources in India said the prime ministers expressed satisfaction over the cooperation on the security front and put emphasis on gearing up the process.

Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, former Indian high-commissioner to Bangladesh, said, “We see the reflection of the prime ministers’ strong commitment to fight against terrorism. Both nations had to deal with the shock of terrorism and militancy and there are sharing of intelligence information on counter-terrorism. It is now bearing fruits.”

Besides, Bangladesh and India signed a MoU in 2019, to install a coastal radar system to ensure maritime security in the Bay of Bengal. It was said then that the facility will help launch a joint coastal surveillance system.

India has now pushed for quick implementation of the MoU during the top level meeting in New Delhi.

Touhid Hossain, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, told Prothom Alo that India rightfully can push for quick implementation of the MoU on coastal surveillance system as it was negotiated a few years ago.

However, it is important to see whether Bangladesh's sovereign rights are protected in the data obtained through the surveillance, he added.