At least 10 to 12 bilateral instruments will be signed during the visit, says the foreign minister
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to discuss a number of bilateral issues, including the killing of Bangladeshis by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along the border and framework agreement on common rivers including Teesta, with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday.
The issues also include repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar and arms purchase from India.
Hasina and her 171-member entourage left Dhaka for New Delhi at 8am on Thursday on a special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on a four-day official visit, which will comprise official engagements and participation in a conference organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
During the visit, 10 to 12 bilateral instruments will also be signed, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Wednesday, while briefing them on the tour, at the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka.
Following her arrival in New Delhi, the prime minister is scheduled to take part in different programs on Thursday and Friday in the WEF-organized India Economic Summit.
A high-level meeting between delegations of Bangladesh and India, led by Hasina and Modi, respectively, will be held on Saturday at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
That meeting will be followed by signing of the instruments, inauguration of different projects by both prime ministers, and lunch.
Prime Minister Hasina is scheduled to meet Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at his residence on Saturday.
She will also meet Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday, before flying back home.
Foreign Minister Momen on Thursday, however, could not say the exact number of bilateral instruments which will be signed, but maintained that the number will be 10 to 12.
He said the instruments will include memorandums of understanding in the fields of youth and sports, shipping, economy, ocean research, fixation of standard of products, commerce, education, ICT and establishment of economic zones.
During their meeting, both Hasina and Modi will discuss increased connectivity through rivers, sea, rail, road and air, overall trade and commerce, people to people connectivity, and cooperation in the energy sector.
There is also a possibility that a standard operating procedure will be signed regarding import and export using Chittagong and Mongla ports.
Additionally, Bangladesh will seek India’s cooperation in regards to the repatriation of over 1.1 million Rohingyas, currently living in cramped refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, said the foreign minister.
Responding to a question on the matter, Momen said both Bangladesh and Myanmar were friends of India, and if the crisis lingers, it will create “pockets of radicalization” and affect the regional peace.
Border killings, arms deal
Responding to a question, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Hoque told reporters that, during their visit, they will also discuss purchasing of arms from India under a $500 million line of credit which will also be given by New Delhi.
“A clearer picture [of the issue] will be available after we return,” he added.
About the killing of Bangladeshis by BSF along the border, Foreign Minister Momen said that there have been some deaths recently. “But these were the instances where Bangladeshis went to India to seize their [Indians’] property and to steal. They were beaten to death by the Indians.”
“Earlier BSF used to kill people by shooting,” he said, and stressed that Bangladesh wanted zero killing along the border with the neighbour country.
Momen also said that a framework has been prepared regarding the seven common rivers between and Bangladesh and India, including the Teesta, but did not go into details.
Foreign Secretary Haque said details of the framework will be provided after the official visit.