New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina praised India for rescuing students of her country stuck in eastern Europe due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict ahead of the bilateral visit to the nation on Monday.
Hasina also lauded the Modi government’s initiative of providing Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme at a time when the pandemic was at its peak, reported news agency ANI. Calling upon closer cooperation between the two neighbours, she said, “There can be differences but these should be addressed through dialogue and in a number of areas, India and Bangladesh had precisely done that.”
Hasina pointed to two special instances where the Indian government offered support to Bangladeshi citizens. One such initiative was the evacuation of Bangladesh students, who like many Indians, were stranded in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries after the conflict broke.
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When asked about her thoughts on the remarks often made especially by western observers upon a lack of cooperation among SAARC nations, Hasina said, “I really would like to express my thanks to Prime Minister that during this war between Russia and Ukraine, many of our students were just stuck and they came to Poland to shelter. But when you evacuate your students, Indian students, they also brought our students back home. So it is really… You have shown a clearly friendly gesture. I thank Prime Minister for this initiative.”
On India’s initiative through the Vaccine Maitri programme, Hasina said it was a very “prudent” initiative taken by Prime Minister Modi.
“I really thank Prime Minister Modi for this initiative, and that way he… you know, contributed vaccines to not only Bangladesh, but also some south Asian countries, and it’s really very very helpful. And it’s a really prudent initiative he has taken, and besides that, we bought vaccines with our own money, and also many other countries also contributed,” said Hasina, as quoted by ANI.
Referring to India as a “tested” friend, Hasina said the country had always stood by Bangladesh in its hour of need from 1971 to later times as well. “We always remember their contribution during our 1971 war. And besides that even 1975, when we lost all my family members. So, the then Prime Minister, she gave us shelter in India. Besides that, you see, these two countries, we are neighbours, close neighbours and I always give importance and priority to friendship with our neighbouring countries,” she added.