Bangladesh and India are likely to hold a regional conference to discuss betters ways to combat terrorism and radicalisation and thus expedite economic growth for all.
The idea came from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he shared with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina at the bilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the just concluded Bimstec Outreach Summit in Goa, India on October 16.
Though the offer came from Modi, he wants Bangladesh as co-host of such events, a highly placed source said.
It is expected that South Asian countries will come together and vow to jointly fight terrorism and militancy.
India will continue discussion on holding such events but another source confirmed that Pakistan will not be there in the wish list.
The 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held on November 9 and 10 in Islamabad, was postponed as maximum member states conveyed their inability to attend the Summit citing lack of conducive environment.
Bangladesh pulled out of the Summit following Pakistan’s repeated interference in its internal affairs.
Diplomatic sources said the SAARC countries which boycotted the Islamabad SAARC Summit may join the regional conference once things are finalised.
Asked about the plan of holding the conference, an official in Dhaka said, “Such events are under discussion but nothing is finalised.”
In Goa, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged BIMSTEC leaders to find out the mentors, masterminds, abettors, financiers, arms suppliers and trainers of terrorists and extremists to defeat terrorism.
“We must be prepared to take strong actions against terrorists and their supporters. I firmly believe that within BIMSTEC we should be able to strengthen our cooperation to address terrorism and the rise of violent extremism,” she said.
It is expected that some other countries might attend the planned conference as observers.
There is frustration both on Bangladesh and Indian sides over the SAARC and its apparent dysfunctional approach as all countries are not on the same ambitious page, diplomatic sources said.
If agreed, Bangladesh and India may hold such regional conferences jointly and other peace-loving countries will be invited to attend it.
Diplomatic sources said the Indian Prime Minister highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s role in dealing with the terrorism and violent extremism.
Both the countries agreed that the goals of peace, stability and development cannot be achieved without rooting out menace of terrorism.
Another official said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to go to India on a two-day bilateral visit on December 3-4.
The visit will take place at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Modi visited Dhaka in June 2015.
Officials from the both sides have started working primarily on the Prime Minister’s visit.
Though Bangladesh remains hopeful about long pending Teesta water sharing deal, officials said it is not a pre-condition for a bilateral visit, according to a news agency.