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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 06.03.2013

I have concluded my first visit abroad as President to friendly neighbour Bangladesh. I am fully satisfied by my visit, which was fruitful and productive. I was received with exceptional warmth and friendship, and wish to thank the government of Bangladesh once again for the excellent arrangements they made.

I was touched by the gesture of the Government of Bangladesh to recognise my modest contribution to their liberation war. As I said in my Acceptance speech yesterday, the honour goes to India as a whole and the large number of Indians who actively supported the birth of Bangladesh.

My visit has served to reinforce the special importance that the government and people of India attach to developing the best possible relations with an important and large neighbour like Bangladesh. We believe that a strong, stable and rapidly developing Bangladesh is in the interest of not only its people but in the interest of the entire region. I, therefore, assured the Government and people of Bangladesh that India will be a willing, long term development partner.

I underlined our commitment to resolving all outstanding issues in our bilateral relations. I was happy to see that the Line of Credit extended by India is being used effectively to enhance transport facilities and development projects in the country.

I am happy that Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Minister of State for Railways and four Hon’ble Members of Parliament – Shri Sitaram Yechury, Dr. Chandan Mitra, Shri Mukul Roy and Shri Bhubaneshwar Kalita – from leading political parties in India, could accompany me to meetings with Bangladesh leaders. Their presence is reflective of the broad based support in India, cutting across Party lines, to developing strong and friendly relations with Bangladesh.

I was impressed by the vibrancy of the people of Bangladesh. Like India, they have a large population of youth. They are committed to democracy, tolerance, an inclusive social order, free media and building a modern and progressive state. They seek to consolidate the institutions of democracy and keep alive the spirit of their liberation struggle. We wish them well in this great endeavour. It is important for us to enhance greater people to people exchanges, which will benefit both countries.

I made it clear that we wish to grow together with Bangladesh because our destinies are interlinked. Apart from bilateral cooperation, we are now preparing to expand our cooperation at the sub-regional level. This holds great promise for the security, growth and connectivity that can transform the entire region.

I had excellent discussions with the leadership of Bangladesh and also had the opportunity to meet a cross section of society. A democratic, secular and progressive Bangladesh is clearly in India’s interest. In this context, we conveyed to all our interlocutors the need for an inclusive political process; and the maintenance of communal peace and harmony. We are hopeful that internal political differences can be resolved through dialogue and that the rights of all communities would be fully respected.

I am returning with the hope and confidence that India and Bangladesh can together build a better future for our people, and that our relations can serve as an example for the rest of South Asia.