Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi hold a meeting at the Bilateral Meeting Room of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on 27 September
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi hold a meeting at the Bilateral Meeting Room of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on 27 SeptemberFile photo

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday expressed his optimism regarding the fulfillment of Bangladesh’s expectations by India as the two neighbouring countries maintain a strong, very friendly and historic relationship.

“India is the closest friend of Bangladesh. India thinks the same way. I think our expectations will be met,” he told newspersons at his office.

Responding to a question on water sharing issues, the foreign minister said they are hopeful of a solution covering all common rivers.

Bangladesh and India are in discussion to hold an in-person Summit in March 2021 if the COVID-19 situation allows.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina thanked her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for accepting her invitation to visit Bangladesh in person in March 2021 to join the celebrations on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.

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Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen will visit India this month, most probably in the last week, to discuss the agenda of the PM-level talks, according to the foreign affairs ministry.

The Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting at the level of foreign ministers of the two countries will also be discussed.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami has recently said they want to move “very quickly” on water sharing of six common rivers during the celebratory year of 2021 showing that the spirit of partnership and sharing between the two countries remains very strong.

“We see no barrier to sharing water (of six common rivers) with Bangladesh. I think we can move very quickly. The main thing is to come up with data,” he told UNB in an interview.

We have to share the waters. We are friends. We are neighbors. I think this will move very quickly
Vikram Doraiswami, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh

The High Commissioner said water is a sensitive topic for everybody and they all need water, and laid emphasis on harmonisation of data from both sides. “So, we have to be sure and your side will have to be sure that data is harmonised.”

Doraiswami said the technical committee-level meeting is likely to be held in the first week of January and then the two countries can put together a broad framework of sharing water.

After the technical committee meeting, water resources secretaries will hold a meeting with the intention that the both sides will try and finalise this within this celebratory year so that they can show that the spirit of sharing of partnership remains very strong.

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“We have to share the waters. We are friends. We are neighbors. I think this will move very quickly,” said the High Commissioner expressing his optimism to hold the Joint Rivers Commission meeting in 2021 if the pandemic allows.

He added: “We are fully in support of holding JRC if pandemic allows.”

During the 17 December virtual Summit, prime minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the need for early signing of an interim agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both the governments in 2011.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has reiterated India’s “sincere commitment” and continued efforts of the government of India in that regard.

The two leaders underscored the need for early conclusion of Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six joint rivers -- Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

Bangladesh side also requested the Indian side to inform its concerned border authorities to allow excavation work of the remaining portion of the Rahimpur Khal for utilisation of Kushiyara river waters for irrigation purposes.