India on Monday rolled out the red carpet for visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she began the official leg of her four-day visit during which the two neighbours will sign five agreements, including three security related pacts.
Sheikh Hasina, who is on her first visit to India after assuming power last year, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning. The Bangladesh leader later called on President Pratibha Patil and discussed a host of bilateral and regional issues.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna also met Ms. Hasina and discussed issues relating to connectivity, trade and SAARC.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with the visiting Bangladesh leader later in the day. The two sides are set to usher in a new chapter in their bilateral ties by signing five pacts in areas ranging from security to power and culture after the talks.
Mr. Singh will host a state banquet in her honour.
The two leaders will discuss sharing of river waters, the resolution of the maritime border dispute and the promotion of bilateral trade and connectivity.
The two sides are set to expand their security and counter-terror cooperation by inking treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, mutual transfer of convicted prisoners, and cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug trafficking.
The three security-related pacts will help New Delhi to press for the extradition of suspected insurgents who have taken shelter in Bangladeshi territory. The prisoner exchange deal is expected to formalise the extradition process between the two countries.
Besides signing accords on power cooperation and a cultural exchange programme, India is set to announce a $500 million line of credit to promote infrastructure development in Bangladesh and a decision to facilitate a rail transit link from Bangladesh to Nepal and Bhutan.
Ms. Hasina will be conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on Tuesday.
Minutes before Ms. Hasina arrived on a four-day trip on Sunday, India struck an optimist note saying her visit “promises to be a path-breaking one and gives both countries a historic opportunity to build a new and forward looking relationship”.
Underlining a new trust and optimism in bilateral ties that had drifted under the previous Khaleda Zia dispensation, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said: “India is committed to working with the government of Bangladesh to build on our historical and traditionally close links and open new vistas in our bilateral relations.”