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Updated: August 7, 2010 19:12 IST

Pranab in Dhaka with $1 billion package

PTI
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 11, 2010.
PTI Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 11, 2010.

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Dhaka on Saturday with a billion dollar credit package on a four-hour long visit, during which he will also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Mr. Mukherjee, who is the first high-profile Indian leader to visit Bangladesh after Ms. Hasina’s tour to New Delhi in January, was accorded a red carpet welcome at the city’s Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport.

A special Indian Air Force jet carried Mr. Mukherjee, while his Bangladeshi counterpart, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, received him on the VVIP tarmac of the airport.

“We (India) are committed to assisting Bangladesh in addressing its priorities for development,” Mr. Mukherjee said in an arrival statement. His visit will be marked by the signing of a $1 billion loan deal, the largest line of credit received by Bangladesh under a single agreement.

Mr. Mukherjee, who is also set to hold talks with Muhith, his host Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Ms. Hasina during the tour, said Dhaka-New Delhi ties touched a new high following Ms. Hasina’s “landmark” visit to India earlier in the year.

“A forward looking and comprehensive joint communique been adopted by the two leaders (Ms. Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh). I am happy that considerable progress has been made in the implementation of several important initiatives taken in the communique,” he said.

Mr. Mukherjee referred to the close bonds of friendship based on common heritage, historic, linguistic and cultural ties and added, “We need to continue to build on these commonalities and promote the well-being of our people to greater economic engagements.”

India’s Exim Bank will sign the $1 billion Line of Credit agreement with Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division. The loan will be used for 14 projects, mostly related to development of railway and communications infrastructure in Bangladesh, particularly to facilitate trans-shipment of Indian goods to the isolated northeastern region through Bangladesh.

Commerce Minister Faruque Khan told PTI on Friday that Dhaka was expected to seek expeditious Indian steps to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers on Bangladeshi products in line with a summit-level understanding in January during talks with Mr. Mukherjee.

Foreign ministry officials said the entire gamut of bilateral relations and issues, including sharing of Teesta river water, were likely to come up for discussions between the Indian minister and Bangladesh leaders and Mr. Mukherjee was expected to review the implementation of agreements reached between the two countries at that time.

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