Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is leading an 11-member high-powered delegation, today arrived here on a two-day visit. This is the first ever visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the neighbouring country in the last 45 years.
Parrikar was greeted by Bangladesh DefenceForces' Principal Staff Officer Lt Gen Md Mahfuzur Rahman and other government officials.
During his stay, Parrikar will call on the country’s top leadership and firm up defence cooperation initiatives ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's trip here next month.
Parrikar will also call on President Abdul Hamid in Dhaka today itself and hold talks with the Security Advisor to Prime Minister.
On December 1, the Minister, who will be accompanied by the Vice Chiefs of the Army and Air Force, Deputy Chief of Navy besides Coast Guard chief, will visit the military academy in Chittagong and meet Hasina, who also holds the defence portfolio.
Top Defence Ministry officials said the focus of the trip was to deepen security ties and firm up a defence cooperation agreement that is likely to be signed when Hasina visits here around December 17.
They said that Parrikar was originally scheduled to travel to Bangladesh much earlier this month but the visit was delayed.
They also ruled out any link between the visit and the sale of two submarines by China to Bangladesh. Hasina had announced the plan to purchase two submarines in 2013 as part of her government's move to build a modern navy.
The visit acquires importance in view of both countries' stand of zero tolerance against terrorism and the geopolitics of the region.
There is a buzz in political and journalistic circles that the Defence Minister's visit to Dhaka will boost India-Bangladesh defence co-operation on issues ranging from counter terrorism, counter-piracy to the geopolitics of the region.
Issues like bilateral naval and air force exercises, training and capability of Bangladesh defence personnel, supply of military hardware, technology transfer, co-ordinated patrolling of the international maritime boundary, joint surveillance of Exclusive Economic zones and co-operation in maritime resources offer scope for expanded bilateral defence co-operation between the two sidess.