Indian external affairs minister to visit Bangladesh

India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will arrive today in Dhaka, a few weeks ahead of Prime Minister

India S Jaishankar Bangladesh

Photo: Charly Triballeau/ AFP

India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will arrive today in Dhaka, a few weeks ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to celebrate Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary.

Despite water disputes and religious tensions between Dhaka and New Delhi, relations between the neighboring South Asian countries have warmed over the years. However, Modi’s controversial decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) caused anxiety and tension in Bangladesh as the bills prompted surges in illegal border-crossing from India to Bangladesh.

Expect the meeting to focus on New Delhi’s long-term commitment to Bangladesh. Recently, India sent 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its neighbor. In the past, the two countries have signed a series of bilateral agreements, from economic development projects to combating terrorism at their border.

It is unlikely that Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will break with one of the country’s closest allies. However, Chinese ties with Bangladesh have grown rapidly over recent years and if the Modi government is not cautious, New Delhi’s internal policies such as CAA and NRC could draw a wedge in the India-Bangladesh relationship, which China could exploit to assert its influence in South Asia.

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