HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Trying for consensus on Teesta: Sushma Swaraj

Salahuddin Mahmud Meem, Hindustan Times  Dhaka, June 26, 2014
First Published: 21:33 IST(26/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:56 IST(27/6/2014)

India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has reportedly told Bangladesh that the Teesta water-sharing agreement would be possible only after taking consensus from political parties back home in India. Swaraj is on a three-day goodwill visit to Bangladesh.

However, on Thursday, India offered to relax visa rules by agreeing to grant multiple entry visas for five years to Bangladeshis under 13 years and over 65 years of age. 

Swaraj met Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali and discussed bilateral issues ranging from Teesta water sharing to land and infiltration issues.

Swaraj also extended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to Hasina to visit India. Swaraj handed over Modi’s letter to Hasina.

Swaraj assured Dhaka that the land border agreement to resolve exchange of enclaves between two countries would soon see the light of the day after the Rajya Sabha gives a favourable opinion.

Bangladesh foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali said that Swaraj asked him to set up a special economic zone for Indian investors.

Spokesperson of Indian ministry of external affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, described the meetings as “constructive, productive, fruitful and successful”. He added, “There is no proposal for visa free entry for Bangladeshi nationals.”

Bangladesh said it would not allow anyone to run terrorist activities against India from its territory.

Teesta remains a thorny issue with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who received a call from Swaraj, saying  that Bengal’s interest must be protected.

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