Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen shaking hands with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar as Dhaka-Delhi bilateral talks begin at state guesthouse Jamuna in Dhaka on 20 Aug, 2019
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen shaking hands with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar as Dhaka-Delhi bilateral talks begin at state guesthouse Jamuna in Dhaka on 20 Aug, 2019File photo

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said Indian external affairs ministry is very “repentant” for not informing Bangladesh beforehand about the imposition of a ban on onion export, reports news agency UNB.

“I heard that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is very repentant. Because they didn’t know about the sudden ban,” he said.

Momen said this while talking to newspersons at his office soon after his return from Turkey.

Bangladesh expects a positive outcome regarding its request to Indian government to withdraw the ban on export of onions soon.

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Earlier, Bangladesh shared its “deep concern” with India at the sudden ban on onion exports saying it undermines the discussions that took place in October last year and January this year.

Shahriar said there is an unwritten understanding that India will inform Bangladesh beforehand while taking any decision on such a ban

The latest “abrupt announcement” of the government of India “undermines” the discussions that took place in 2019 and 2020 between the two friendly countries on the matter and the understanding shared, the foreign affairs ministry wrote to Indian High Commission in Dhaka on 15 September.

Bangladesh referred to the commerce secretary-level meeting between the two countries held on 15-16 January in 2020 and prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in October last year when the Bangladesh side requested regarding the matter.

“I wish you had informed us before suddenly putting a halt in export of onions. I had to tell my cook to prepare my food items without onions. I would request India to please inform us beforehand while taking such an action. After all, we are neighbours,” prime minister Sheikh Hasina said in Hindi in a programme in India in October last year, reported various Indian media outlets that time.

The High Commission of India has been requested to convey Bangladesh’s message to the authorities concerned in India and take necessary measures to resume the export of onions to Bangladesh taking into consideration the excellent ties of friendship and understanding enjoyed by the two countries, the official said.

The foreign ministry mentioned that the sudden announcement of amendments in India’s export policy of onion directly impacts the supply of the essential root vegetables in Bangladesh.

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Earlier on Tuesday, state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh requested the Indian government to withdraw the ban imposed on onion export as soon as possible.

He said Bangladesh raised the issue to the external affairs ministry of India through Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi immediately after noticing the ban.

Shahriar said there is an unwritten understanding that India will inform Bangladesh beforehand while taking any decision on such a ban.

He also referred to prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s remarks she made during her Delhi visit in October 2019.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to import onions from multiple sources to ensure enough supply of the key cooking ingredient in the local markets.

In line with the decision, the government has already taken steps to import onions from Turkey and Egypt, the foreign ministry said.

The consignment of the onions is expected to reach Chattogram port early next month.