India was keen to focus on the development of connectivity with Bangladesh and beyond for next 20 years to change the region's geo-economic scenario, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
Mr Jaishankar, who arrived Bangladesh on a day-long visit to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh later this month, said that connectivity between the two countries can change the face of the region.
"Fifty years (of Indian-Bangladesh ties) are over...Let's think for the next 20 years. I would say most of all is to look at connectivity...I would pick connectivity as a big goal (for our relationship)," Mr Jaishankar said during a joint media briefing along with his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen.
Mr Jaishankar, who held comprehensive discussions with Mr Momen, said Bangladesh was central to India's ''Neighbourhood First'' policy and increasingly relevant to the country's ''Act East Policy''.
"The significance of our ties with Bangladesh lies in its centrality for our 'Neighbourhood First'' and its growing relevance for our ''Act East'' Policy. We see Bangladesh as a key neighbour and a valued partner not only in South Asia but also in the broader Indo-Pacific region," he added.
He talked about involving a third country, preferably Japan, to be a major stakeholder in the bilateral engagement in terms of connectivity as both Dhaka and New Delhi were having "very good" relations with Tokyo.
"Japan is involved (as well) in connectivity projects in the Bay of Bengal (region)," he said. "I can tell you the whole geo-economics of the region will change, the Bay of Bengal will look very different."
Mr Jaishankar said that from New Delhi's perspective viewpoint, matters related to people to people contact, education, health and culture immediately followed the connectivity issue. "I think we should have a much more people-led relationship," he said.
"I am very convinced that would actually give an additional impetus to our cooperation," he said.
Mr Jaishankar said there is no domain where Bangladesh and India were not working today but yet New Delhi envisaged numerous possibilities in bilateral ties.
On his part, Mr Momen said, "we have committed to continue to work together to take our bilateral relations to newer heights under the leadership of two honourable Prime Ministers."
"We focused on possible ways to materialise our commitments and how to prioritise and accommodate each other's priorities in a mutually beneficial manner," he said.
On Prime Minister Modi's upcoming trip to Dhaka, Mr Momen said, "Of course, preparations for his visit has been a key element of our discussions."
"This is a landmark year for our two countries. We discussed some of the important activities that we plan to undertake jointly to celebrate these historic occasions," he said.