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Army chief Gen Pande leaves for Bangladesh on 3-day visit

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Chief of Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande on Sunday left for Bangladesh on a three-day visit for closer bilateral coordination and cooperation on a host of strategic issues, in his first trip abroad after taking the reins of the 1.2-million strong force.

Gen Pande travelled to the neighbouring country less than a month after Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen visited India during which both sides appreciated the "trust and mutual respect" in the fast-expanding ties.

"Continuing with the excellent bilateral defence ties between India and Bangladesh, Gen Manoj Pande, the Chief of Army Staff has proceeded on a visit to Bangladesh from July 18 to 20," the army said in a statement.

It said the visit will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two armies and act as a "catalyst" for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues.

The Chief of Army Staff is scheduled to hold one-on-one meetings with the three service chiefs of Bangladesh besides meeting senior leaders of the country, officials said.

The army chief will commence his visit by paying tributes to the fallen heroes of the Liberation War of 1971 by laying a wreath at the 'Shikha Anirban' on Monday.

He will also pay tributes to Bangladesh's Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at his memorial in Dhanmondi, according to the army.

"On the second day of his visit, the army chief will address the students and faculty of Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur," it said.

Gen Pande is also scheduled to interact with members of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support and Training Operations (BIPSOT), a premier institute which trains peacekeepers for employment in various UN Peace Operations.

This will be followed by a visit to the Bangabandhu Military Museum at Mirpur.

The overall strategic ties between India and Bangladesh have been on an upswing in the last few years.

In March last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Bangladesh to attend events organised to mark the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the War of Liberation of that country.

In reflection of close ties, India also hosted a number of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.

Around 93,000 Pakistani troops had surrendered before the joint forces of the Indian Army and the "Mukti Bahini" on December 16, 1971, that paved way for the birth of Bangladesh.

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