Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar paid a courtesy call on PM Sheikh Hasina on Monday. Speaking at a press briefing at a hotel in New Delhi in the afternoon, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said during the discussion with Indian prime minister, PM Sheikh Hasina said the projects taken up for the betterment of the people of the entire region, including India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, should be prioritised.
There were discussions on the adverse impacts of the Ukraine-Russia crisis in the whole world, including the economy. Both sides were hopeful of further enhancing of mutual cooperation to work together to tackle the crisis
The foreign secretary said they put special emphasis on connectivity during the talk. And this is not only the infrastructural connectivity between the two countries; rather it’s the connectivity between people of both countries. Besides, several other issues were also discussed, including grid connectivity. There were also discussions on transmission lines through which Bangladesh can import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan too, apart from India.
After the meeting with PM Hasina, Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar tweeted, “Delighted to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh this evening. The warmth and frequency of our leadership level contacts is a testimony to our close neighborly partnership.”
At least seven MoU (memorandum of understanding) might be finalised for signing after the summit of the two prime ministers on Tuesday, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said.
The diplomatic sources from the two countries say the works on finalising at least seven MoUs was underway as of Monday night. These are – withdrawal of 153 cusec water in favour of Bangladesh for the Surma-Kushiyara project, cooperation between Council for Scientific and industrial research (CSIR) of India and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial (BCSIR) Research, cooperation between National Judicial Academy of Bhopal and the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, cooperation between the railways of the two countries for the training of the officials of Bangladesh Railway at different institutes of Indian Railway, cooperation between Bangladesh Railway and Indian Railway for modernising the railways through information and technology, cooperation between Prashar Bharati and Bangladesh Television (BTV) and cooperation between the two countries on space technologies.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina reached New Delhi on Monday morning on a four-day official visit. The flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines carrying the prime minister landed at the Palam Airport in India at around 12.00pm local time. Indian union state minister of railways and textiles, Darshana Vikram Jardosh received PM Sheikh Hasina at the airport. The Bangladesh prime minister was given a red carpet reception at the airport.
Apart from the Indian foreign minister, one of the top business tycoon of India and chairman of Adani Group, Gautam Adani also paid a courtesy call on PM Sheikh Hasina. Later in the afternoon, the prime minister visited the ‘dargah’ (shrine) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi. Later in the night, she attended a dinner hosted by the Bangladesh high commission in Delhi in her honour.
According to the day’s schedule, prime minister Sheikh Hasina will be officially received by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi through a guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning.
Then the prime minister will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his tomb in Rajghat. After that, the summit of the two prime ministers will be held at the Hyderabad House. Sheikh Hasina will pay courtesy calls on deputy president of India, Jagdeep Dhankhar and Indian president Draupadi Murmu in the afternoon.
The issues of Teesta, Russia-Ukraine war and Rohingya crisis
The Teesta Water Sharing Agreement was squandered at the very last moment exactly 11 years ago from now. The chief minister of West Bengal denied signing the agreement right before the summit in Dhaka in September, 2011. The progress of the agreement has been stalled since then. Everything regarding the agreement has been entangled between commitments and assurances in the last 11 years. In reality, nothing has changed over the sharing of the water of Teesta river. The cold relation between the central government of India and the West Bengal government hasn’t changed much. Therefore, Bangladesh does not have any high hope regarding signing the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement ahead of the summit of prime minister Sheikh Hasina in Delhi.
However, replying to a question from newspersons, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said the issue of signing the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement would be raised by Bangladesh in the summit of the two prime ministers. Besides, there will be discussions on Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, as its validity is about to expire.
According to the diplomatic sources of the two countries, the joint statements after the summit had been long in recent years, especially since 2010. This time, the joint statement will be short as compared to the previous times. However, the joint statement will emphasise future collaborations as well as strengthening the partnership between the two countries in regional and international context.
Regarding the courtesy call of the Indian foreign minister with the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the foreign secretary said that during the discussion in the regional context, the issues of mutual cooperation came up in the contexts of the recent unrest in Myanmar's Rakhine and the Russia-Ukraine war.
The prime minister told the Indian foreign minister, "There is a fear as to whether the recent unrest in Myanmar's Rakhine will have a negative impact on repatriation or not." The Indian foreign minister said that India is also noticing that there is unrest there which is not good for any side.
The foreign secretary said, “There were discussions on the adverse impacts of the Ukraine-Russia crisis in the whole world, including the economy. Both sides were hopeful of further enhancing of mutual cooperation to work together to tackle the crisis.”
*This report appeared on the print version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu