DHAKA: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the armies of Bangladesh and India should strengthen their collaboration and suggested international peacekeeping operations as a new area for bilateral cooperation.
Hasina made these remarks when visiting Indian Army chief Gen Manoj Pande who arrived here on Monday on a two-day visit to Bangladesh paid a courtesy call at her official residence here.
"Cooperation and collaboration should be strengthened between the armies of the two neighbouring countries," a premier's office spokesman quoted Hasina as telling Gen.Pande.
Referring to setting up the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training (BIPSOT) by her government, Hasina said that there are opportunities for the exchange of activities between the two countries for mutual welfare.
The premier recalled with gratitude the support and role of the Indian government, the Indian Army and its people during Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War while the two countries were enjoying excellent bilateral relations.
Hasina said poverty remained a challenge for the two countries requiring Bangladesh and India to join hands to defeat the common enemy while both Dhaka and New Delhi laid importance on socio-economic development through utilising this relation.
"Poverty is the main enemy of the people in the region and countries of this region will have to work unitedly to eradicate poverty," she said, adding Bangladesh is an overpopulated country but her government was trying hard to advance it socio-economically despite various limitations and limited resources.
The Indian Army chief said the cooperation and collaboration between Bangladesh and India in the defence industry sector was progressing very well.
Pande assured her that India's cooperation for the modernisation of the Bangladesh Army would continue in the days to come and there was potential to further strengthen cooperation between the two friendly countries in the areas of technical and other fields.
The Indian Army chief stressed the need for utilising these opportunities for mutual benefit.
Pande informed the premier that he visited Bangladesh Military Academy in Chattogram and he was really impressed to see the modern facilities there.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian Army chief joined as the chief guest of the passing out ceremony of officer cadets of Bangladesh military's 84th long course at Bangladesh Military Academy.
He inspected the parade and distributed awards among select cadets from home and abroad for their extraordinary excellence.
On Monday, Pande held a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed and, according to a military statement, the two Army chiefs discussed the existing bilateral ties and future cooperation for the progress of the two countries.
Pande placed wreaths at the altar 'Flame Eternal' at the Dhaka Cantonment paying his tributes to Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War martyrs and thereafter a Bangladesh military contingent presented him an honour guard at the Senakunja area at the garrison where he planted a sapling as well.
He added that the Indian Army chief was visiting Bangladesh five weeks after his counterpart visited India to witness an identical passing out parade at Officers' Training Academy in Chennai.