Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived here tonight on her official visit, which India sees as “a path-breaking and historic opportunity” to forge a “new and forward-looking” relationship amid hopes that its security concerns would be addressed.
Ms. Hasina was accorded a warm welcome at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here where she was received by Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms. Hasina will hold talks here tomorrow to discuss the entire range of bilateral relations, particularly focussing on issues like security, terrorism, border-related aspects, connectivity, trade and investment and cooperation in infrastructure building.
Three agreements to fight terror, organised crime and drug trafficking and a pact on sharing power will be the highlight of the visit during which India is expected to walk the extra mile to give a major push to the ties.
The accords to be signed are Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Agreement on Combating International Terrorism, Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
The two countries will also sign an MoU on cooperation in the power sector for import and export of electricity to the tune of over 900 million units per annum depending on availability, need and price.
Ms. Hasina, who took over in January last year, will also receive the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize here on Tuesday.
“The visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh promises to be a path-breaking one and gives both countries a historic opportunity to build a new and forward-looking relationship,” the Foreign Secretary said just before Ms. Hasina’s arrival on four-day visit.
Ms. Rao said India was committed to working with government of Bangladesh to build on historically and traditionally close links and “open new vistas” in bilateral relations.
“We seek to revive those physical and emotional links which remain disrupted since Independence,” Ms. Rao said. “We will also seek their (Bangladesh’s) understanding and cooperation on our security and connectivity needs,” she said.
Sources here said India is willing to walk the extra mile to forge a new relationship with the Ms. Hasina government, given the significant goodwill created by gestures like cooperation on action against North East insurgents.
India has recently been able to nab a number of North East insurgents, including ULFA chief Arabinda Rajkhowa, who have been taking shelter in Bangladesh for decades and this is seen as a result of cooperation from the Hasina government.
Reciprocating these gestures, India is ready to address Bangladesh’s concerns with regard to trade barriers as also issues related to security.