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Bangladesh PM Hasina in India, several deals to be inked

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New Delhi/Dhaka, Oct 3 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in New Delhi on a four-day visit on Thursday that will see her hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which several bilateral agreements are set to be inked.

Dhaka plans to raise the issue of sharing of the Teesta river waters, and also the National Register of Citizens (NRC) during the talks.

Hasina, who arrived here as the head of a large delegation, is set to hold talks with PM Modi on Saturday, and call on President Ram Nath Kovind the same evening.

On Thursday, Hasina will join the summit of World Economic Forum as the chief guest. Over 800 leaders from 40 countries are to take part in the two-day Summit.

Hasina will attend the WEF Country Strategy Dialogue on Bangladesh at Hotel Taj Palace and join a reception to be arranged in her honour at Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.

On Friday, she will attend an interactive session with select CEOs of India and the Inauguration of India-Bangladesh Business Forum (IBBF) at ITC Maurya and WEF Closing Plenary at Hotel Taj Palace. The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Heng Swee Keat will call on Sheikh Hasina on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will call on her at Hotel Taj Mahal.

On Sunday, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi would call on her. Noted Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who is directing a film on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, will also call on her.

On October 6, Hasina will leave Delhi for home in the evening.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, briefing reporters in Dhaka on her visit, said Hasina is set to discuss a number of bilateral issues, including the killing of Bangladeshis by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along the border and a framework agreement on common rivers including Teesta, with Modi on Saturday.

The issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar and arms purchase from India would also figure, the Dhaka Tribune said.

According to Momen, around 10 to 12 bilateral agreements are set to be inked, including in the areas of youth and sports, shipping, economy, ocean research, fixation of standard of products, commerce, education, ICT and establishment of economic zones.

The two sides will also discuss increased connectivity through rivers, sea, rail, road and air, overall trade and commerce, people to people connect, and cooperation in the energy sector.

There is also a possibility that a standard operating procedure will be signed regarding import and export using Chittagong and Mongla ports.

Additionally, Bangladesh will seek India’s cooperation with regard to the repatriation of over 1.1 million Rohingyas, currently living in cramped refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, said Momen.

Responding to a question on the matter, Momen said both Bangladesh and Myanmar were friends of India, and if the crisis lingers, it will create "pockets of radicalization" and affect the regional peace.

Foreign Secretary Shahidul Hoque told reporters that, during the visit, the two sides will discuss purchasing of arms from India under a $500 million line of credit which will be given by New Delhi.

About the killing of Bangladeshis by BSF along the border, Momen said that there have been some deaths recently. "But these were the instances where Bangladeshis went to India to seize their (Indians’) property and to steal. They were beaten to death by the Indians."

"Earlier, BSF used to kill people by shooting," he said, and stressed that Bangladesh wanted zero killing along the border with the neighbour country.

Momen also said that a framework has been prepared regarding the seven common rivers between and Bangladesh and India, including the Teesta, but did not go into details, Dhaka Tribune said.

Foreign Secretary Haque said details of the framework will be provided after the official visit.

Bangladesh and India have inked over 100 agreements in the last 10 years, 68 of which were concluded in the last three years alone. India also rolled out three lines of credit to Bangladesh worth $7.5 billion including $200 million grants for different development projects.

The decades-old land boundary and maritime issues have been solved, but the equitable share of the Teesta river water remains unresolved.

The Assam’s citizenship exercise of NRC has also raised concern in Bangladesh as many fear that those rendered non-citizens of India may be pushed into Bangladesh.

But India maintains that it is their internal issue which in no way will affect Bangladesh, a promise that Momen earlier said Dhaka trusts, said bdnews24.

Replying to a question, the foreign minister, however, said they would raise the NRC issue and the pending Teesta water sharing deal during the talks.

The BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional and sub-regional connectivity between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, and energy sector cooperation will also be discussed.

Officials will also discuss celebrating the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the 50 years of diplomatic ties between Bangladesh and India next year.

 

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