India, Bangladesh hold talks to deepen cooperation, sign seven pacts

NEW DELHI, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held on Saturday extensive talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina who arrived New Delhi Thursday evening on a four-day state visit to deepen bilateral ties in different areas including defence, trade, security and connectivity.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a joint statement issued after talks between the PMs that detailed discussions were held in an atmosphere of great cordiality and warmth and seven agreements were signed and three bilateral projects were launched during the visit.

The two PMs expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations based on deep historical and fraternal ties reflecting bilateral partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding.

Seven agreements signed during the visit of PM Hasina include an MoU for providing a coastal surveillance system, a standard operating procedure on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, an MoU on withdrawal of water from Feni river by India for drinking water supply scheme, an agreement concerning implementation of the Lines of Credit committed by India to Bangladesh, an MoU between University of Hyderabad and University of Dhaka, renewal of cultural exchange programme and an MoU on co-operation in youth affairs.

Both the PMs held productive and comprehensive talks on bilateral and regional issues and reviewed several aspects of the existing ties while pledging to utilise various opportunities for mutual benefit.

PM Modi hailed Bangladesh government’s zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and appreciated Sheikh Hasina for her efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region.

“Recognizing that terrorism remains one of the most significant threats to peace and stability of both countries and the region, the two prime ministers reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror,” the statement said. Both the countries agreed to cement cooperation “against extremist and radical groups, terrorists, smugglers, smuggling of fake currency, and organized crime”.

PM Hasina requested Modi to lift restrictions for Bangladeshi travelers using existing land ports while thanking him for New Delhi’s commitment to simplify travel requirements for Bangladesh nationals traveling by road or rail to India.

Both the countries recognized the importance of increasing connectivity through air, water, rail, road for enhancing economic cooperation between Bangladesh and North Eastern states of India and beyond.

“Both leaders underlined the immense potential of movement of cargo using the inland water and coastal shipping trade,” the joint statement said adding, “Bearing in mind the possible benefits to both economies from greater use of each others’ seaports for trans-shipment of their respective export cargoes, the two sides agreed to expedite discussions on requisite modalities.” During the talks both the sides agreed to increase cooperation in defence to build secure neighborhood and and appreciated the finalization of an MoU on Establishment of Coastal Surveillance Radar System in Bangladesh.

Both the PMs inaugurated three bilateral development partnership projects including one on import of bulk LPG from Bangladesh to the Indian state of Tripura by using Bangladesh trucks that is expected to boost cross border energy trade.

They also welcomed an earlier agreement on Indo-Bangladesh cooperation in power sector especially the decision to develop a cross-border electricity interconnection between several Indian and Bangladesh cities.

The Indian PM appreciated the neighboring country’s generosity in providing shelter and humanitarian assistance to displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar and pledged to extend a fifth tranche of humanitarian assistance to support Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conveyed the gratitude of the government of Bangladesh for the humanitarian assistance provided by India since September 2017 to help meet the needs of the displaced persons from Myanmar,” the joint statement added.

The leaders also agreed on the importance of repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in the Rakhine State of Myanmar in a safe, speedy and sustainable manner. They also agreed that greater efforts are needed to facilitate their return and improving security situation and socio-economic conditions in the Rakhine State of Myanmar is of paramount importance.

The two PMs underlined their commitment to work closely in the UN and other multilateral organisations in addition to deepening regional and sub-regional cooperation to achieve collective prosperity of all member countries.

Source: Kuwait News Agency