Foreign Secretary to visit Bangladesh, talks may feature China

Vinay Mohan Kwatra is likely to review bilateral relations as Bangladesh has already drawn attention in India because of a planned military exercise with the Chinese forces

Published - May 07, 2024 10:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra. File

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra. File | Photo Credit: PTI

China’s planned project along the Teesta in Bangladesh is expected to feature during Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra’s upcoming visit to Bangladesh, a prominent daily in Dhaka has reported.

Mr. Kwatra, who is expected to be in Dhaka on a two-day visit this week, is likely to review bilateral relations as Bangladesh has already drawn attention here because of a planned military exercise with the Chinese forces.

India has been cautiously watching China’s investment plans in Bangladesh that include a multi-million dollar dredging and development project which envisions to turn the Teesta into a zone of economic activity. The project came into focus in 2020 and ever since has been a concern for India as it is being planned near the strategically important Siliguri corridor and the northeastern states.

Teesta is a major transboundary river between India and Bangladesh and India has been unsuccessful in completing the Teesta water-sharing agreement which has added to Dhaka’s impatience regarding the future of the river-related activities. Bangladesh claims that the river runs dry in lean season because India holds water on its side, which hits economic activities along the river in Bangladesh.

The Chinese project is aimed at helping Bangladesh overcome the difficulties about Teesta’s water flow which will help Bangladesh draw economic benefits.

Already, in recent weeks, India took note of a joint counter-terror exercise that Chinese and Bangladesh forces were scheduled to hold in the first fortnight of May.

Regarding the joint Bangladesh-China military exercise, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Randhir Jaiswal had said in April, in response to a question from The Hindu, “India always keeps a close watch on what is happening in our neighbourhood. Appropriate action would be taken if it affected India’s security situation.” As of now the military exercise appears to be on track and a Chinese delegation is expected to travel to Bangladesh.

Mr. Kwatra’s visit was earlier scheduled for April 20 but the plan was changed because of unknown reasons. The discussion between the two sides acquires special significance as there is a strong buzz that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may visit India this summer. Ms. Hasina visited Thailand last week in the backdrop of the civil unrest in Myanmar and the visit to India is also expected to deal with issues affecting the immediate neighbourhood of Bangladesh and India. Ms. Hasina is expected to visit China this year where the project on the Teesta may feature prominently.

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