Modi to meet PM Hasina before Biden this evening

Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi
File photo

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is one of the three leaders with whom Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have bilateral meetings on Friday evening, the day before the G20 summit starts on Saturday.

The bilateral meeting, presumed to be the last meeting before the upcoming parliament election in Bangladesh, will take place at the Indian prime minister’s official residence at Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi at 5:30 pm and will continue for nearly one and a half hours.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will also meet Sheikh Hasina. Sonia Gandhi is likely to be accompanied by her daughter Priyanka Gandhi.

Sheikh Hasina always remembers her personal relations with the Gandhi family and contributions of India, led by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in the liberation war of Bangladesh with gratitude.

Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with Indian-born Mauritius prime minister Pravind Jugnauth at his Lok Kalyan Marg’s official residence prior to the meeting with Sheikh Hasina.

India’s relations with the Indian Ocean state, which has an immense geopolitical importance, dates far back.

Bangladesh and Mauritius are among the nine countries Narendra Modi has invited as “special guest countries” in the G20 Summit this year. Other countries are -Spain, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UAE, Oman, Egypt and Nigeria.

The Indian prime minister will discuss with the heads of governments and states of other countries on Saturday.

Sources from New Delhi said Modi will hold a bilateral meeting with Joe Biden, who is on his first visit to India as the President of the United States, following the meeting with Sheikh Hasina.

The Friday meeting is intended to enhance the understanding between the two countries and take ahead the agreements signed during Modi’s visit to the US last June.

The meeting will discuss defence related issues, including joint production of the engine of India’s locally developed war plane ‘Tejas’ and supply of state-of-the-art drones, cooperation for the non-military use of atomic energy, technology transfer, and to build a free and open Indo-Pacific area.

It is hoped that three MoU will be signed before the bilateral talks. These include 1. Cooperation for agriculture research and education, with agriculture research being strengthened between the two countries. 2. Cultural exchange agreement, extended from 2023 to 2025. 3. MoU between India’s NPCI and Bangladesh Bank, facilitating rupee and taka transactions through network-to-network connection.

At the same time several electricity and railway projects will be inaugurated from the meeting.

Besides, diplomatic sources from the two countries said, issues that are problematic for bilateral relations and remained unresolved for the last 10 years could be raised in the bilateral meeting.

The two leaders are likely to discuss further enhancing the people-to-people relation, commercial transactions and communications between Bangladesh and India, and to facilitate Bangladesh’s commercial relation with third countries like Nepal and Bhutan with the help of India.

The upcoming parliament election in Bangladesh is getting special attention in the Hasina-Modi meeting this time, especially in the context of the US and other Western countries’ activities over the polls.

The US and some other Western countries have been putting pressure on the government of Sheikh Hasina on different issues, which has made India a bit worried since India thinks exerting “unnecessary pressure” would not bode well for “political and social stability” of this region of South Asia.

Sheikh Hasina will also have a meeting with West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Bandopadhyay, who will attend a dinner to be hosted by Indian president Droupadi Murmu on the occasion of the G20 Summit.

She will return to Bangladesh on Sunday morning as French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Dhaka that day.