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PM goes to Delhi today with wide agenda

LoC, CEPA, energy, connectivity to dominate Hasina-Modi meet

MIR MOSTAFIZUR RAHAMAN | June 21, 2024 00:00:00

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina starts for Delhi today on a two-day tour with wide agenda featuring several proposed cooperation agreements, including one on connectivity.

She is scheduled to have bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, tomorrow (Saturday) discussing the major outstanding issues between the two next-door neighbours as well as scope of cooperation in newer areas.

More than 10 MoUs and agreements are likely to be signed during the visit, officials concerned at the foreign ministry said, adding that "the exact number cannot be mentioned as both sides are still working on some deals".

A fresh loan package -- apart from the current credit line -- may be announced but there may not be any agreement, sources said ahead of Sheikh Hasina's second visit to New Delhi in close succession.

The prime minister had been to the Indian capital last week, from June 8 to 10 to, to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Modi on his reelection as the prime minister of India to a third consecutive term.

Many in the diplomatic circles feel that this visit has a special importance as both the countries have got new government's recently following renewal of tenures of both the premiers.

"The bilateral summit will give a guideline on the next course of the bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries," says one official.

But it is for sure that the crucial issue of inking Teesta Deal will remain unaddressed over again, they hinted.

Rather the bilateral meeting may take up the Indian offer to provide assistance in Teesta River Water Management project, they said.

"Bangladesh will also raise the Rohingya repatriation issue at the talks and the impact of the civil war in Myanmar on the region will also come up," says another official.

India wants early implementation of the CEPA economic cooperation deal by completing the negotiations on it quickly. A joint statement which will be issued after the bilateral meeting may mention the timeframe of the CEPA negotiations, sources said, adding that the proposed deal is being promoted by the Indian side as a key instrument to reduce a huge trade deficit against Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is keen to have a tripartite deal for importing energy from Nepal and Bhutan by using Indian grid and it will be discussed in the bilateral meeting.

A slow progress on the Indian Line of Credit (LoC) will also come up for a review.

Since 2010, India has announced US$7.36 billion assistance under three LoCs but so far the disbursement is only 1.73 billion.

Out of the 42 projects taken under three LoCs, only 14 worth 410 million dollars have completed so far.

A fresh LoC package is being considered by the Indian side but any agreement on this may not be signed this time. Rather it may be mentioned in the joint statement, sources said.

Bangladesh will also raise the issue of border killing.

Since the situation in Myanmar is affecting both Bangladesh and India, the two countries will discuss how to stop the influx of Rohingyas and others from Myanmar into Bangladesh and India.

Also, the progress on the Indian Line of Credit projects, security cooperation, and regional issues will feature the bilateral talks, officials said.

According to the itinerary, released by the foreign ministry, a flight from Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her entourage will take off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday at about 2.00pm.

The flight will land at Palam Airport, New Delhi, at about 4.00pm (Delhi time) where a high-level dignitary of India and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Md. Mustafizur Rahman will welcome her.

In the evening, Minister of External Affairs of India Dr S Jaishankar will call on her at the Meeting Room of her Place of Residence, Hotel Taj Palace.

On Saturday morning, a red carpet will be rolled out at Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by her Indian counterpart through a ceremonial reception where the national anthems of Bangladesh and India will be played.

Afterwards, she will go to Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Father of the Indian Nation Mahatma Gandhi by placing a wreath at his Samadhi. She will also sign the visitor's book there.

Later in the day, Sheikh Hasina will go to Hyderabad House for a one-on-one with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to be followed by delegation-level talks.

Both will witness the signing ceremony of the MoUs and agreements.

Both the Prime Ministers will give their press statements. Then they will attend a banquet luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of India in honour of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh at the Hyderabad House venue.

In the afternoon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will call on Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankhar at his Secretariat and in the evening call on President of India Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

At 6.00pm (Delhi time), the Prime Minister will depart from Palam Airport on a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines and land in Dhaka at about 9.00pm.

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