Trade, Porous Borders On Agenda As Sheikh Hasina Meets PM Modi

PM Modi went to the Delhi airport yesterday to receive his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

- NEW DELHI: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is on a four-day visit to India and arrived in Delhi yesterday, received a grand welcome from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan today. The two sides will be signing at least 25 pacts in various key sectors including civil nuclear cooperation and defence, but any agreement on the crucial Teesta water-sharing deal is unlikely. It will be discussed though, sources said.

"Teesta agreement remains a work in progress... We have not reached a closure on it. But it will be a very very special visit. We hope the visit will take the ties between the two countries to new level," Sripriya Ranganathan, Joint Secretary in the Bangladesh-Myanmar division of the external affairs ministry, said.

Indian officials also added that the central government will not go ahead with the agreement on Teesta without taking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on board and she has been opposing it stridently citing water crisis in the state.

This will be Ms Hasina's first visit after PM Modi assumed office in 2014. PM Modi, who is looking forward to discussing key issues with his Bangladesh counterpart, tweeted this morning, "Will hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during which we will discuss ways to further deepen ties between India & Bangladesh."

She will also meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. She will visit the Ajmer Dargah on Sunday and will meet Indian business leaders in Mumbai on Monday. A visit to Manekshaw Centre at 3.30pm today to honour Indian Armed Forces members who embraced martyrdom in Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971 is also part of her itinerary.

PM Modi and Prime Minister Hasina will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide US $500 million credit to Bangladesh for military hardware purchases, besides formalising defence engagements.

The two sides are looking at a framework agreement on civil nuclear energy which will provide for extensive cooperation in the sector including setting up of nuclear reactors in Bangladesh by India.
Terrorism, radicalism and enhancing security cooperation between the two countries are likely to figure prominently.

Two bus services from Kolkata to Khulna and a train service will also be started and there will be enhanced security arrangements along the highly-porous border between the two countries.

The West Bengal chief minister has accepted an invitation to attend the lunch to be hosted by PM Modi for Ms Hasina.

(With inputs from PTI)<

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