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Hasina-Modi Talks: Focus on connectivity, trade, health

  • Published at 11:40 am March 27th, 2021
Sheikh Hasina Narendra Modi Dhaka airport 26 March 2021
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina receives her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after the latter arrives at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Friday, March 26, 2021. The Indian premier is in Dhaka on a two-day visit to attend the dual celebrations of Bangladesh's 50 years of independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Focus Bangla

The two prime ministers are set to hold a bilateral meeting at Sheikh Hasina's office on Saturday afternoon

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to have "substantive discussions" with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Saturday afternoon, with the focus on trade, connectivity and Covid-19 cooperation. 

The two South Asian countries, celebrating 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations, want to "progress together with others" in the region at a "faster pace". 

Neither Bangladesh nor the Indian side specifically mentioned the bilateral instruments to be signed after the talks but disaster management, trade, and oceanography are likely to be areas of cooperation documents. 

The Indian prime minister said the next 25 years will be "crucial" for both countries. 

Modi said his ongoing visit will contribute to even stronger bilateral relations between the two countries. "We're committed to further deepening and diversifying our relations. 

"Connectivity is one of the issues that might get priority," an official told UNB adding that Bangladesh wants enhanced connectivity with India and beyond," he said,

Hasina will have a one-to-one meeting with her Indian counterpart at her office in Dhaka before having delegation-level talks at the same venue. 

In a pre-arrival statement, Modi said he will be having "substantive discussions" with Sheikh Hasina, following their very productive virtual meeting in December last year. 

They will jointly inaugurate some joint projects virtually and witness the signing of MoUs between the two countries after the talks. 

During their virtual summit held in December last year, Prime Minister Hasina highlighted the need for the early signing of an interim agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both the governments in 2011.

Modi reiterated India's sincere commitment and continued efforts of the Government of India in that regard. 

The two leaders, during the summit, 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.

More meetings

Prime Minister Modi, as part of his two-day visit to Bangladesh, met senior political leaders from the 14-Party Alliance on Friday. 

Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, Syed Nazibul Maizvandary, Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haq Inu, Pirjadda Mostafa Amir Faisal Mozaddedi, Fazle Hossain Badsha, Syed Tayabul Maizvandary, Shirin Akhter, and Sharif Nurul Ambia were among the 14-party leaders. 

Discussions centred on diverse issues of bilateral relations were held during the meeting to strengthen ties between the two nations. 

Modi also interacted with the opposition leaders in parliament, including Raushan Ershad, Ghulam Muhammed Quader, Ziauddin Bablu and Ruhul Amin Howlader.

The engagement involved discussions on a wide gamut of bilateral issues. 

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen too called on Modi, and they both reflected on deepening the fraternal ties and strengthening the all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that transcends a strategic partnership between the two countries. 

Modi also met the community leaders, including representatives of minorities in Bangladesh, freedom fighters, friends of India and youth icons. 

Itinerary

Before the talks with Hasina on Saturday, Modi is scheduled to visit Bangabandhu Mausoleum Complex to pay tributes to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Tungipara. 

The Indian prime minister said he will pay homage to Bangabandhu, alongside Hasina, during the ongoing Mujib Borsho celebrations. 

He will place a wreath at the complex, plant a sapling and sign visitors' book there. 

He will be offering prayers to Goddess Kali at the ancient Jashoreshwari Kali Temple, one of the 51 Shaktipeeths in the Puranic tradition. 

"I'm particularly looking forward to my interaction with representatives of the Matua community at Orakandi, from where Sri Sri Harichandra Thakur ji disseminated his pious message," Modi said.

He had arrived in Dhaka on Friday at the invitation of Hasina and together celebrated Mujib Borsho - the birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence.

Soon after his arrival, Modi visited the National Memorial in Savar and paid tributes to the martyrs of 1971 Liberation War. 

He also planted an Arjun sapling on the memorial premises and signed the visitor's book, writing: "I pray that the eternal flame at Savar remains a lasting reminder of the noble victory of truth and courage over deceit and oppression." 

Modi will also meet President Md Abdul Hamid before leaving Dhaka on a special flight on Saturday evening. 

Foreign Minister Momen will see him off at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

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