India, Bangladesh sign seven agreements during PM Modi-Sheikh Hasina talks

Published on Sep 06, 2022 04:26 PM IST

Following talks with his visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said both leaders had stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism

Both leaders had stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism. (Twitter (@MEAIndia))
Both leaders had stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism. (Twitter (@MEAIndia))

India and Bangladesh on Tuesday signed seven agreements for cooperation in areas ranging from sharing of river waters to space and unveiled new connectivity and energy initiatives, as leaders of the two sides held up the bilateral partnership as a role model for the neighbourhood.

Following talks with his visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said both leaders had stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism.

“In order to keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is very necessary that we jointly face forces that want to attack our mutual trust,” he said.

PM Modi described Bangladesh as India’s largest development partner and the biggest trade partner in the region, while Hasina said India is the “most important and closest neighbour for Bangladesh”.

She added, “Bangladesh-India bilateral relations are known to be a role model for neighbourhood diplomacy.”

Also Read: Bangladesh PM received by Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan: Whenever I come to India..

Hasina held out the hope that the two countries will resolve the issue of sharing the waters of the Teesta River – an agreement on the matter has been pending since 2011 – just as they had settled “many outstanding issues in the spirit in friendship and cooperation”.

PM Modi noted that two-way trade is growing rapidly and India is the largest market for Bangladeshi exports in Asia, and announced the two sides will soon start discussions on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) to give impetus to trade.

One-on-one talks between the two prime ministers was followed by a meeting with their delegations, with the agenda focused on connectivity, energy, water resources, trade and investment, border management and security, and regional and multilateral issues.

The two sides seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs) include the withdrawal of water from the cross-border Kushiyara river, cooperation in space technology, collaboration on IT systems used by railways in areas such as movement of freight, science and technology cooperation, training of Bangladesh Railway personnel and Bangladeshi judicial officers in India, and cooperation in broadcasting between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Television.

PM Modi and Hasina noted that the two countries share 54 rivers, and the Indian prime minister said these have been linked to the livelihoods of people on both sides for centuries.

The agreement on sharing the waters of Kushiyara river will benefit southern Assam in India and the Sylhet region of Bangladesh, PM Modi said.

The two leaders unveiled the first unit of the Maitree super thermal power project being built in Khulna division of Bangladesh with concessional funding from India. The unit was synchronised with Bangladesh’s power grid in August, and the project will generate 1,320MW when it is completed.

They also inaugurated the 5.13-km Rupsha rail bridge, a key part of the 64.7-km Khulna-Mongla port broad gauge railway project.

The bridge was built by an Indian contractor at a cost of $169million, and the total cost of the project, also being constructed with an Indian line of credit, is $389 million. It will increase connectivity with Mongla, Bangladesh’s second largest port.

India has provided concessional loans worth $9.5 billion for development projects in Bangladesh, especially connectivity initiatives. These initiatives include improving rail connectivity between Khulna and Dhaka, Chilahati and Rajshahi and connecting Mongla port with Darshana-Gede at a cost of $312million, the Parbatipur-Kaunia rail project to facilitate the transportation of fuel that is being built at a cost of $120million, and the supply of road construction equipment and machinery worth $41million to repair and maintain Bangladesh’s road network.

PM Modi said there were talks on connecting power transmission lines between the two countries.

“India will continue all kinds of cooperation for the development and expansion of Bangladesh’s railway system,” he said.

The two sides also discussed enhancing cooperation for flood mitigation.

“India has been sharing flood-related data with Bangladesh on a real time basis and we have also extended the period of data sharing,” PM Modi said.

PM Modi pledged India will continue to walk step by step with Bangladesh in realising “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision of a stable, prosperous and progressive country.

“Our conversation today was an excellent opportunity to reiterate this core commitment,” he said.

Hasina said the talks had focussed on ways to “materialise our commitments and accommodate each other’s priorities in a mutually beneficial manner”.

Referring to the issue of sharing of river waters, she added, “I know as long as Prime Minister Modi is here, Bangladesh and India will resolve all these problems.”

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