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Bangladesh PM Hasina says her India visit to play ‘pivotal role’ in bolstering bilateral ties

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(Eds: With file pics)

Dhaka, Jun 25 (PTI) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday described her recent visit to India as “very fruitful” and the outcome of her talks with India’s top leadership will play a “pivotal role” in strengthening the existing bilateral relations and opening new avenues of cooperation.

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Hasina undertook the two-day state visit last week at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first such bilateral visit by any head of government after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance alliance formed a government for the third consecutive time.

Addressing a press conference at her residence here, the 76-year-old leader said that Dhaka will accept the “most beneficial” proposal over implementing the Teesta River project.

She said the visit opened new avenues of cooperation for the socioeconomic development of the people of the two countries, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.

“The visit was short but very fruitful. I think this visit will play a very pivotal role in strengthening the existing excellent relations between India and Bangladesh,” she was quoted as saying.

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Hasina called on President Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during her stay in New Delhi.

India and Bangladesh signed 10 agreements to boost ties in several key sectors, including in the maritime sphere and blue economy.

Seven new and three renewed pacts were signed to further consolidate the ever-growing relationship between New Delhi and Dhaka.

“During the visit, the main topic of discussion with the Indian leadership was to formulate a vision on how the two newly-elected governments can take the cooperative relationship further,” she said.

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“We discussed defining the future course of action to ensure the establishment of ‘Smart Bangladesh’ and ‘Viksit Bharat 2047’,” the report quoted her as saying.

Hasina said Prime Minister Modi underscored that Bangladesh-India relations are constantly developing and progressing rapidly.

Both leaders discussed politics and security, peaceful and secure border management and border casualty reduction, trade and connectivity, among other things, she said.

Sustainable management of common rivers and water sharing, energy and regional and multilateral cooperation were also among other issues of mutual interest discussed.

Responding to a question about the management of Teesta River water, Hasina said that Bangladesh would accept the most beneficial proposal for the country and its people, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), the state-owned news agency, reported.

“We have taken Teesta projects. China and India have given separate proposals to implement the project. We must accept the proposal which will be more beneficial for the people of our country,” she said.

“But, we must consider how much the project is applicable for my country, how much its return will be helpful for the welfare of the people after its completion alongside the capability to repay the loan,” she said.

China has completed a physical survey, while India wants to do another about the implementation of the Teesta project, she said.

“We will accept the survey which will be more suitable and beneficial for us,” she added.

Asserting that Bangladesh has a longstanding issue over Teesta river water sharing with India, she said, “So, it will be easy for Bangladesh if India does the Teesta project. In that case, we won’t need to talk about the Teesta water sharing always.”

A major outcome of talks between Prime Minister Modi and Hasina was the decision to send a technical team from India to Bangladesh soon for a mega project to conserve and manage the Teesta River.

The decision by India to send a technical team to hold talks on the conservation of the Teesta River within Bangladesh assumes significance as China is keenly eyeing the estimated USD one billion project notwithstanding reservations by New Delhi.

Talking about her meeting with Prime Minister Modi, she said, “We discussed ways and means of mutual cooperation and engagement between the two countries. We have agreed to cooperate wholeheartedly for the welfare of our two countries and people.”

“I have invited the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to visit Bangladesh as soon as possible at his convenience,” she was quoted as saying.

This was Hasina’s second trip to New Delhi in less than 15 days, as she was among the dignitaries invited to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on June 9. PTI GRS AKJ







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