DHAKA- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today put emphasis on fruitful engagement in various fields of cooperation between South Asian countries for the betterment of the people of the region.
"I strongly believe that the betterment of the people of South Asian region depends on fruitful engagement in various fields of cooperation between the countries of this region," she said.
The prime minister expressed this view while joining a videoconferencing with the top leaders of six other South Asian nations from her official Ganabhaban residence here this afternoon on the occasion of the launching of South Asia Satellite by India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also joined the videoconferencing from their respective countries.
"We want to cooperate with all countries for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of our peoples, as envisioned by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," Sheikh Hasina added.
The prime minister said Bangladesh and India have jointly achieved many successes in connecting the countries of the region. "I'm confident that launching of this satellite will change the face of South Asia," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said with the launching of South Asia Satellite, Bangladesh and India have expanded connectivity from land, water and air to space.
"I'm sure that cooperation in space will definitely lead us to the ambitious technological enhancement for the benefit of the region," she said.
The premier hoped that the South Asia Satellite will open up a new horizon of cooperation in this particular area in the coming days.
Sheikh Hasina said she is very happy to be able to talk to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi again. "I'm also happy to share this platform today with my esteemed colleagues from Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka," she said.
The prime minister congratulated Narendra Modi and the government of India for successful launching of South Asia Satellite. "I'm glad that just a few days ago we have signed Orbital Frequency Agreement for cooperation in South Asia Satellite," she said.
Sheikh Hasina thanked the Indian premier and the government for extending warm hospitality to her and the Bangladesh delegation during her state visit to India from April 7-10.
"The bilateral talks and documents signed during the visit demonstrate the depth and dimension of our relationship," she said.
The premier wished the South Asian leaders good health, happiness and long life, and the friendly people of this region peace, progress and prosperity.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Tarana Halim were present at Ganabhaban.
The Indian prime minister said with the launch of the satellite, the South Asian nations have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of partnership.
"Our coming together is a sign of our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our peoples in the forefront. It shows that our collective choices for our citizens will bring us together for: cooperation, not conflict; development, not destruction; and prosperity not poverty," he said.
Modi said: "As governments, our most important task is to secure growth, development and peace for our people and communities. And, I am convinced that when we join hands and mutually share the fruits of knowledge, technology and growth, we can speed up our development and prosperity."
The Indian premier said Sabka Sath, Sabka Bikash (everybody's company will help in everybody's growth) can be the guiding light for action and cooperation in South Asia.
"And, a befitting way for us to achieve our shared priorities of economic prosperity for our people. And in this, you will find a strong and committed partner in India that truly believes in the strength of this choice and principle," he said.
Modi said two years ago, India made a promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia.
"The successful launch of the South Asia Satellite marks the fulfilment of that. With this launch we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our partnership," he said.
With its position high in the sky, Modi said, this symbol of South Asian cooperation would meet the aspirations of economic progress of more than one-and-a-half billion people in our region. "And, extend our close links into Outer Space."
The Indian premier thanked the South Asian leaders for joining him today to celebrate the launch of South Asia Satellite. "And, also your strong and continuous support in making this vision a reality. I also wish all of us more such celebrations where we can rejoice in success of our common and collective efforts for regional growth and prosperity."
Modi said space technology will touch the lives of the people in the region. "The satellite would provide services specific to individual countries as per their own needs and priorities, as also common services," he said.
Earlier, India launched the South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh today. The lift-off mass of about 2,230kg includes the satellite and its launch vehicle.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) developed the satellite that will bring South Asian nations closer.
Seven out of the eight SAARC countries are a part of the project, as Pakistan decided to opt out stating "it has its own space programme."
The satellite will provide telecommunications link between India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Each country can beam its own TV programs while there will be the possibility for a common South Asia programming.
The mainframe of the satellite is cuboid in shape, built around a central cylinder. The mission life is 12 years and it cost Rs 235 crore
The GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication Satellite and data from it will be shared with the other five countries. It will help to meet the growing telecommunications and broadcasting needs of the region.
All participating nations will have access to at least one transponder using which they can telecast their own programming. The countries will develop their own ground-level infrastructure.
The satellite took almost three years to build, would boost services such as telecommunication, direct-to-home, telemedicine, tele-education and other supporting systems in these countries. The satellite is also expected to help support their water conservation initiatives, by providing data, forecasting weather and sending alerts on natural disasters.
With GSAT-09, South Asian countries can also save the investment they would have had to make on developing a communication satellite and launching it.
However, they have to make their own ground station to crunch data from the 12 Ku-band transponders in the satellite.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)