Dhaka has high hopes from Modi visit

Two important foreign policy planners of Bangladesh have hinted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka would take bilateral ties to a new height.

“The two countries have resolved virtually all bilateral issues and embarked on ambitious cooperative projects,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi said in an interview with the state news agency BSS.

“Now the time has come to go forward and tackle bigger bilateral and sub-regional or trilateral issues, where much of our hopes lie,” Dr. Rizvi said.

On Friday, Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali has asked critics not to belittle the achievements. To questions on Teesta water sharing, which is unlikely to be discussed this time, Mr. Ali said: “We will definitely take it [Teesta] forward” and added, “We have solved many issues and our relations have reached a historic height now.”

The visit is likely to see a boost in trade, connectivity and anti-terrorism measures, highly placed sources told The Hindu.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will receive Mr. Modi at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Saturday.

At least 20 instruments ranging from security cooperation to people-to-people contacts would be signed, which Dhaka believes would further strengthen the relations.

Thrust on connectivity

According to the Foreign Minister, Bangladesh’s focus would be on connectivity as two bus services, connecting mainland India with its hard-to-reach north-eastern States through Bangladesh, would be flagged off during the visit.

In a separate interview on the visit, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran, who worked closely during the past three years on improving bilateral ties, said, “ [the visit] comes against the backdrop of a very, very historic step by our government and our Parliament towards ratification of the 1974 LBA and its 2011 protocol.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday night, Mr. Modi detailed his programme, saying he would be visiting Bangladesh with “a great sense of enthusiasm and delight” that will see the signing of a host of agreements and the announcement of grant-in-aid projects. He said: “…. It is with a great sense of enthusiasm and delight that I visit a nation with which India’s ties have been very strong.”

The Prime Minister said he would pay tributes to martyrs of the Bangladesh Liberation War and visit the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum to pay “tributes to the great Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” whom he described as “a friend of India and a pillar of strength and democracy in the South Asian region”.

Mr. Modi will end his visit on Sunday evening after a public speech.

Teesta deal

The visit is being seen as historic as it comes follows the resolution of a 41-year-old land boundary problem between the two countries. But the much-awaited Teesta water-sharing deal would remain pending even this time, as Mr. Modi has failed to convince West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to endorse the agreement.

Ms. Banerjee is set to reach Dhaka on Friday night, hours before Mr. Modi.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 6:56:40 AM |

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