Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on a visit to China, has described her country's ties with India and engagements with New Delhi as "organic", saying it is "beyond a few billions of dollars of trade".
Ms Hasina, who addressed the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in the northern Chinese port city of Dalian on Tuesday, said she always believed that despite differences in size and capacity compared to India, Bangladesh can only secure its peace and security through sustainable development and connectivity.
"It is just organic. We have shed blood together for our (Bangladesh) independence," the PM said on Bangladesh-India relations.
On the other hand, Bangladesh's relationship with China is good and "China is our partner in mega projects and economic advancements," Ms Hasina was quoted as saying by the official Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).
"Our ties with Japan are historic, not just as the largest ODA partner," she said adding, "Russia, another partner who stood by us during our liberation war, is now helping us in our energy security area".
Asked how she maintains friendship with both India and China, Ms Hasina said her government has tried to be balanced and objective in its foreign relations. "In the past 10 years of our government, I have tried to position Bangladesh in a balanced and objective manner with all our friends globally to optimise our economic and development aspirations."
She added that her government always made it clear to all that Bangladesh does not harbour any military ambition as "it is against our values and ethos".
Ms Hasina, who has reached Beijing for official talks with the Chinese leadership, said that when she first assumed office as the premier in 1996, her government resolved a most challenging issue of sharing Ganges river water with India.
"We amicably delimited our maritime boundary with Myanmar and India. And now, Bangladesh and India are joining hands to uniquely develop our trans-boundary river navigation," she told the WEF meeting.
"We are for a rule-based system. Yes, geo-politics will always be a part of life. But we have to carefully appreciate and balance issues (as) we cannot trade off long-term interests for short-term gains," she added.
Ms Hasina pointed out that a cooperative yet competitive environment among all countries could be the "insurance of their shared prosperity".
"During the past term of my government (2014-18), we engaged and deepened our ties with India, China, Japan, US, Europe, Russia seamlessly," she said.
She said as a fast-growing economy, Bangladesh needs each of our
friends for diverse purposes, not certainly at the expenses of another. "Each of our friends has distinct competence and interest as well. As long as our relationships are based on mutual trust and respect, we all gain for our peoples," she said.
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