Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral ties.

India has offered free transit/transshipment facilities to Bangladesh for the export of goods to third countries.

Bangladesh will be able to avail this facility, using specified land ports, airports and sea ports.

India has also assured Bangladesh of the supply of energy and essential commodities.

These matters were revealed in the joint statement issued on Wednesday after the summit meeting between the two prime ministers.

The joint statement highlighted various aspects of the relations between the two countries as well the ongoing cooperation, unresolved issues, future cooperation and new proposals.

Requests and aspirations of both sides were also highlighted. Other issues mentioned included a resolution to the Rohingya crisis as well as regional and sub-regional cooperation.

The two prime ministers discussed various regional and international issues of mutual interest. In context of the global supply chain being disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, they placed importance on extensive cooperation based on friendship and partnership in the interests of growth and development of the region.

The two top leaders expressed satisfaction at the significant reduction in the number of lives lost along the border. They agreed to bring border killings down to zero. The two prime ministers reiterated their commitment to halt the spread of terrorism, militancy and fundamentalism.

Transit/transshipment facilities

The joint statement said that India had offered free transit via its territory to Bangladesh for exporting products to third countries using specified land, air and sea ports. The Indian side invited the Bangladesh business community to use its port infrastructure for transshipment to third countries.

Speaking to this correspondent, a senior official of Bangladesh said there were new proposals and elements concerning connectivity. As these were new to Bangladesh, there was no scope to take any immediate decision in this regard.

Mentioning that India has been providing free transit to Bangladesh to export its products to Nepal and Bhutan, the statement said that Bangladesh has requested rail connectivity with Bhutan through the newly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari route. The Indian side agreed to consider the request, based on its viability and feasibility. To make this and other cross border rail links viable, the Indian side requested the Bangladesh side to remove port restrictions at the Chilahati- Haldibari crossing.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Tuesday, New Delhi

Speaking to Prothom Alo Wednesday night, former foreign secretary and Delhi University's Bangabandhu chair, Shahidul Haque, said that if this proposal of India comes into effect, scope will be created for Bangladesh to be linked to the greater economic region.

When asked if the joint statement had fulfilled Bangladesh's demands and aspirations, a senior diplomat of Bangladesh replied that a lot of give and take is carried through the statement. There will be discussions and negotiations. For example, the matter of what essential commodities India will supply during the year is more or less satisfactory. There can't be stronger commitments than this. This can be taken as a framework for cooperation. The assurance regarding essential commodities would not have even arisen if India had not responded to Bangladesh's request.

According to Indian diplomatic sources, there has been ample progress in the summit talks in light of four aspects of the joint statement -- water resource management, supply of essential commodities, energy supply and connectivity.

Is Teesta losing importance?

As always during talks with India, the issue of sharing water resources was given priority this time too. The two top leaders expressed their satisfaction over the MoU signed regarding the sharing of the water of Kushiyara river. India requested Bangladesh to sign an interim agreement regarding the water of Feni river in consideration of irrigation requirements in the state of Tripura. The two prime ministers praised the decision of the Joint Rivers Commission to prepare a framework for the signing of the interim agreement and to add a few other rivers in order to share data and information. Bangladesh also hailed the join technical committee for the joint survey for the optimum use of Ganges' waters.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, referring to past talks, reiterated Bangladesh's long standing request for an interim agreement on Teesta waters to be signed. The draft of the agreement for sharing waters of common rivers was signed in 2011.

The stand of the Bangladesh and Indian prime ministers was mentioned in the joint statements regarding the Teesta agreement issue in the summit talks of 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021. The joint statement this time mentioned Sheikh Hasina's reiteration of Bangladesh's stand regarding Teesta. However, it has no mention of Narendra Modi's response.

Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi wave before summit talks at Hyderabad House in Delhi on Tuesday

Supply of essential commodities and energy

Bangladesh requested that the supply of essentials such as rice, wheat, onions, ginger and garlic be ensured. India gave a positive assurance in this regard, based on the prevalent supply in India, and said all efforts would be made in this regard. India agreed to talks between the relevant authorities of the two countries regarding energy supply. India hailed the Bangladesh decision to give permission to Indian Oil Corporation to supply refined oil.