India and Bangladesh agree on measures to enhance ease of travel

India and Bangladesh on Monday agreed to fully implement the Revised Travel Arrangements of 2018 and further liberalise visa procedures to enhance ease of travel, especially for tourists, students and businesspeople.

The decision was taken at the third India-Bangladesh consular dialogue held in Dhaka.

The dialogue mechanism was started in 2017 to improve consular, visa and mutual legal assistance cooperation between the two sides in order to strengthen people-to-people ties.

The two sides “agreed that more intensive implementation of provisions under the Revised Travel Arrangements (2018), relating to tourist, student and business visas, and further liberalisation of visa procedures and entry and exit norms would further enhance ease of travel”, statement from the external affairs ministry said.

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The two sides held wide-ranging discussions on mechanisms to strengthen coordination and cooperation on consular issues, including finalisation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for repatriating each other’s detained nationals and early release of detained fishermen.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to continue working towards “citizen-centric consular mechanisms”, the statement said.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh emerged as the top source country for foreign tourist arrivals in India. In 2018 and 2019, more than two million Bangladeshi nationals visited India.

During the consular dialogue, both countries welcomed the close cooperation between law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorism and cross-border crimes and to increase mutual legal assistance.

Noting the friendship and special bond between the two countries, especially during the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, India and Bangladesh also agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties through easier and more extensive people-to-people exchanges.

The Indian side at the consular dialogue was led by Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (consular, passport and visa) in the external affairs ministry, while the delegation from Bangladesh was led by Mashfee binte Shams, secretary (East) in the foreign ministry.