July 19, 2024, 11:38 pm


Diplomatic correspondent

Published:
2024-06-20 13:59:20 BdST

PM’s State VisitDhaka, Delhi eye signing dozen of instruments


Bangladesh and India are likely to sign over a dozen of bilateral instruments with some new initiatives by identifying new areas of cooperation during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s state visit to India on June 21-22, officials have said.

The two-day state visit is taking place at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and might carry some directives giving a picture of greater cooperation between the two countries in the future, they said.

This will be the first full-fledged bilateral visit by any head of government to India after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed its government for the third consecutive term.

This will be Hasina’s second trip to the Indian capital in less than 15 days. She was among the dignitaries invited to Modi's swearing-in ceremony on June 9.

Though it is unlikely to see any breakthrough on the Teesta water sharing deal specifically at this moment, the issue will come up for discussion in addition to a likely discussion on broader Teesta and relevant projects on development and management, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Earlier on May 9, India reportedly expressed interest in financing Bangladesh's Teesta project which is known as “Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project”.

"You know, we have taken a big project on Teesta. India wants to finance this project. It will have to be implemented in line with our needs. We want to see our needs fulfilled," Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud told reporters after his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 9.

The renewal of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty will also come off for discussion, officials said. 

Earlier, in 2022, the two leaders welcomed the formation of a Joint Technical Committee to conduct a study for the optimum utilisation of water received by Bangladesh under the provisions of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen recently said the two countries are scheduled to sign a number of MoUs and agreements and there is an issue of making some announcements on some areas of cooperation.

“There will be continuity of the relations, and we expect to see some new initiatives in our relations,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a reception recently.

Former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said they would take Bangladesh-India relations to a new height in the next five years as there are new governments in place in the two neighbouring countries with continuity amid new mandate.

“There will be a stock-taking on what we left in September 2022 and we will take the relations to a new height in the next five years,” he said on Friday, noting that the expectations and aspirations are sky-high.

Recalling earlier discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her state visit to India in September 2022, reiterated Bangladesh’s long-pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River, the draft of which was finalised in 2011.

Referring to the Land Boundary Agreement – LBA – and resolving a maritime dispute with India, Shahriar said the countries would gradually be able to resolve the unresolved issues as complex issues had been resolved.

He said there was a 33-point joint statement issued during the state visit of the prime minister of Bangladesh to India in September 2022 where issues like Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), energy cooperation, people-to-people contacts, broader connectivity and others were mentioned.

Shahriar said the upcoming visit of the prime minister will help advance the relations in those areas.

He hoped that the next meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) will be held soon, noting that the 38th meeting of the JRC was held in New Delhi in August, 2022 wherein various matters pertaining to cooperation in the water resources sector were discussed.

The Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) has been functioning since 1972. It was established with a view to maintain liaison in order to ensure the most effective joint effort in maximising the benefits of common river systems. The JRC is headed by water resources ministers of both the countries.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry indicate that key issues on the agenda include cross-border connectivity initiatives, Indian investments in the Teesta special economic zone, management of Mongla port, and power trade.

Additionally, discussions on a potential trade pact are expected.

Over the past decade, numerous cross-border initiatives have been launched as part of a robust regional partnership plan.

The Modi-Hasina summit on June 22 might also focus on enhancing the defence partnership between the two nations.

This visit marks Sheikh Hasina's third trip to New Delhi since September, 2023, underscoring the strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh says India is a friendly country and Bangladesh does not compare the Dhaka-Delhi relations with anyone else. “India stood beside us during the War of Liberation in 1971. Our relationship with India is multifaceted. We share borders with India. We are supportive of each other,” Hasan Mahmud said.

PM’s Engagements in New Delhi

A flight from Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying PM Hasina and her entourage will depart Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday at about 2 pm, according to the sources in the Foreign Ministry.

The flight will land at Palam Airport, New Delhi at about 4 pm (Delhi time) where high-level dignitary of India and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Md. Mustafizur Rahman will welcome her.

In the evening, Minister of External Affairs of India S Jaishankar will call on her at the Meeting Room of her Place of Residence, Hotel Taj Palace.

On Saturday morning, a red carpet will be rolled out at Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by her Indian counterpart through a ceremonial reception where the National Anthems of Bangladesh and India will be played. She will also inspect the Guard of Honour.

After that, she will go to Raj Ghat to pay tribute to the father of the Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi by placing a wreath at his Samadhi. She will also sign the visitor’s book there.

Later on the same day, Sheikh Hasina will go to Hyderabad House to hold a tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed by delegation-level talks.

Both will witness the signing ceremony of the MoU and agreements.

After that, both the Prime Ministers will give their press statements. Then they will attend a Banquet Luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of India in honour of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh at Hyderabad House.

In the afternoon, Hasina will call on the Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar at his Secretariat.

In the evening Sheikh Hasina will call on the President of India Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

At 6 pm (Delhi time), the prime minister will depart from Palam Airport, New Delhi on a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines and will land in Dhaka at about 9 pm.

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