ISLAMABAD, Pakistan /DHAKA, Bangladesh

Pakistan’s prime minister spoke to his Bangladeshi counterpart on Wednesday, officials said, amid an apparent diplomatic push to reset bilateral ties.

Imran Khan telephoned Sheikh Hasina, and exchanged views over challenges, and measures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus, as well as the ongoing floods in Bangladesh, according to a statement by Pakistani prime minster’s office.

Khan expressed condolences on the loss of lives, prayed for their recovery and “commended measures taken by the leadership of Bangladesh to contain the spread of the virus.”

He also apprised the Bangladeshi premier about “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries.

Addressing it as a “brotherly country,” Khan underscored the importance Islamabad attaches to closer ties with Dhaka, highlighting the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people-to-people exchanges.

He underlined Pakistan’s commitment to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, shared Pakistan’s perspective on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and invited Hasina to visit Pakistan.

Khan phoned Hasina at around 1.00 p.m. local time in Dhaka (0700GMT) and “wanted to know from her about the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh and how her government is combating the deadly disease,” said a statement from Dhaka.

The conversation lasted for 15 minutes, said Ihsanul Karim, Hasina’s press secretary, in the statement.

The Bangladeshi premier apprised in detail Khan of the steps Dhaka has taken for the treatment COVID-19 patients and to contain the transmission of the disease, it added.

She also informed the Pakistani leader about the current flood situation in her country.

Bangladesh has reported 213,254 virus cases, including 2,751 fatalities and 117,202 recoveries, thus far.

Besides material damage, a total of 86 people have also died in seasonal floods across the South Asian country.

In Pakistan, meanwhile, 267,428 people have tested positive along with 5,677 virus-linked deaths and 210,468 recoveries.

The telephonic contact comes days after a meeting between Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.

Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 following a bitter nine-month war. Relations between the two countries have since been frosty.

However, a change in regional dynamics after recent tensions between India and China has allowed the two countries to reengage.

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