Bangladesh and India have “agreed in principle” to go for the clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in Bangladesh soon after India launches the trials there.
Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said that they are ready to start the phase-III clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in Bangladesh soon after they launch these trials in India.
Bangladesh agreed in principle to the proposal, a source at the Indian High Commission in Dhaka told news agency UNB.
“Common trials will help strengthen cooperation among our regulators and simplify processes for future distribution and joint production of vaccines,” said the Indian minister.
Collaboration to produce COVID-19 vaccines will be highly important, he said.
“We look forward to cooperating with Bangladesh in vaccine development, trials as well as distribution and production as and when the vaccines are ready for use,” Jaishankar said during the foreign minister-level talks with Bangladesh on Tuesday.
We want no death along the border. It’s a shame for both the friendly countries like Bangladesh and India. It hurts our solid relations
He also said Bangladesh will be accorded high priority in all these efforts.
Talking to the news agency, a senior official said the Indian home secretary will be visiting Dhaka in November to hold a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart and discuss border management and consular issues.
India appreciated Bangladesh’s contribution to SAARC COVID-19.
Border killing to zero, early resolution of Teesta water sharing
The two countries also agreed to resolve the water-sharing issues of common rivers, including Teesta, and bring down border killings to a zero level, says Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen.
“We’re always hopeful about Teesta. The Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting will be held soon,” he told newsmen at the ministry after the 6th Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting.
Momen led the Bangladesh side while Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar led the Indian team at the virtual meeting.
Bangladesh laid emphasis on “early resolution” of the Teesta water-sharing issue apart from resolving water sharing of other common rivers, he said.
During the meeting, the Bangladesh foreign minister expressed the hope that as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, India would play a more meaningful role in having a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, including their early repatriation to Myanmar, in a safe and sustainable manner
Both sides underscored the necessity of early resolution of the Teesta water sharing and agreements on sharing over all common rivers.
The two sides also agreed to hold the long pending JRC meeting soon at the ministerial-level to address outstanding issues on water resources cooperation.
Bangladesh also conveyed deep concern over deaths along the Bangladesh and India international border, said the minister, adding that both sides discussed sustainable repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State.
“We want no death along the border. It’s a shame for both the friendly countries like Bangladesh and India. It hurts our solid relations,” Momen said.
The two ministers stressed the need for strengthening effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan.
The Bangladesh side highlighted that the “entire nation is deeply concerned” at the rise in the killing of Bangladeshis by the Indian border force.
The Indian side agreed that the loss of civilian lives along the border is a matter of concern.
Both sides urged the border forces concerned to enhance coordinated measures to bring down border incidents to a zero level.
During the meeting, the Bangladesh foreign minister expressed the hope that as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, India would play a more meaningful role in having a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis, including their early repatriation to Myanmar, in a safe and sustainable manner.
Secretaries and high- level representatives from a large number of ministries and divisions of both the countries joined the meeting.
Although it was Dhaka’s turn to host the meeting, the meeting was held on a web platform due to the COVID-19 situation.
Trade and other mutual issues
During the meeting, the two ministers also reviewed and discussed cooperation on connectivity, security, political issues, and development, trade and investment, power and energy sector and people-to-people contacts.
Both sides expressed satisfaction that even during the current situation induced by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh and India have maintained robust engagements.
The two foreign ministers recognised the positive trajectory of bilateral relations enjoyed by the two countries and exchanged gratitude with each other for maintaining the gesture of good neighbourliness.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, both sides discussed collaboration in the health sector, especially in terms of supply, delivery, distribution and co-production of COVID-19 vaccine.
The foreign minister appreciated India’s assurance on prioritising Bangladesh for the supply of potential vaccine in the future.
Both sides agreed to jointly celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
It was agreed that virtual meeting at prime ministers-level would be held in December this year between the two countries.
A number of programmes were proposed to be organised jointly to mark the two epochal events, such as revival of the historic Mujibnagar-Kolkata road, honouring the Indian war veterans, ceremonial military parades on 16 December, organising friendship fairs, year-long seminars in different cities of Bangladesh and India, and simultaneous launching of a website on 50 years of victory and friendship.
The two sides agreed to establish Bangabandhu-Bapu digital museums both in Bangladesh and India.
The Indian government would also release a commemorative stamp on the birth centenary of Bangabandhu on 16 December 2020 to pay their homage to the life and ideology of Bangabandhu, according to a joint statement.
The two ministers positively reviewed the possibilities of resumption of air connectivity, during the ongoing pandemic, through special air bubble arrangement with equal share of frequencies and routes by the carriers of the two countries.
The Bangladesh side requested the Indian side to reciprocally ease visa and land border restrictions for Bangladeshis, particularly for medical patients and students enrolled in various educational institutions of India.
Bangladesh thanked India for the concessions being provided under SAFTA. However, various non-tariff barriers and lack of adequate trade facilitation is impeding flow of Bangladeshi products into India, particularly, the North East.
Bangladesh requested India to address the issues of accreditation, certification, standardisation, port restrictions and developing port infrastructure to enable exports of Bangladesh into India.
Foreign minister Momen requested his Indian counterpart to look into the export of essential commodities, such as onions by India, since this affected the domestic market of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh also stressed the equitable application of investment policies by India. Both sides discussed implementation of the development projects under Indian Lines of Credit in a timely manner.
It was agreed that a high-level monitoring committee would be formed with ERD secretary and Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh leading the committee on each side.
Enhancing cooperation on energy and power sector through facilitation of tripartite power-energy cooperation among Bangladesh-India-Nepal and Bangladesh-India-Bhutan was also discussed.
After the talks, both the ministers jointly unveiled two commemorative stamps as part of the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The 5th JCC meeting was held in February 2019 in New Delhi.