TO COUNTER the increasing Chinese influence in the neighbourhood and build a military relationship with Bangladesh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will visit Dhaka for two days starting Wednesday.
This is the first formal bilateral visit by an Indian Defence Minister to Bangladesh and will prepare the ground for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi next month.
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Defence Ministry sources said that while India and Bangladesh have conducted training exercises at a fairly reasonable level, there has been no defence relationship between the two countries. With Dhaka taking a more forward-looking approach with connectivity and the land and maritime boundaries finalised between the two countries, New Delhi believes that it is logical to build a defence partnership.
“We are cognisant of Chinese and Pakistani ability to extend their defence supplier relationship with Bangladesh. The Chinese have recently sold two submarines to Dhaka. While we have no submarines to sell to Bangladesh, there are other defence items we can sell to them,” a source said. “This will also allow Dhaka to work on growing their own defence manufacturing capacity with our public sector and private sector defence firms.”
The Defence Ministry has already shared a draft white shipping agreement with Bangladesh, which will allow the two countries to share maritime data in the Bay of Bengal.