2 years ago

What Hasina-Modi talks have on offer for Bangladesh 

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The long-expected summit between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that ended at the Hyderabad House in Delhi on Tuesday has come up with a joint statement which included a rather long list of accords and wishes that both nations want to fulfil in the days to come. These included India's consent to sell its surplus fuel oils to Bangladesh so that the country may meet its domestic requirements as well as stabilise its rising fuel prices. Notably, the offer from the Indian side came in response to PM Hasina's request to her Indian counterpart during the one-on-one discussion between the two leaders at the Delhi summit.  

In response to the request from Bangladesh side, India also agreed to consider favourably the supply of essential food items, including rice, wheat, sugar, onion etc., to Bangladesh in times of need. Much, however, would depend on the prevalent domestic supply situation in India. Border killing also received due importance in the joint declaration, whereby the two sides agreed to work towards bringing the number of deaths down to zero. The number has gone down in recent months, but it is still happening. Also, both leaders reviewed the progress of the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, which, it is hoped, would help address Bangladesh's energy needs.   

In addition to these, a raft of issues relating to bilateral cooperation between the two countries came under discussion at the summit. These included, among others, political and security cooperation, defence, border management, trade and connectivity, water resources, power and energy, and cultural and people-to-people contact. On connectivity, in particular, two sides laid importance on implementing the rail, road and other modes of connectivity at both bilateral and sub-regional levels. On this score, the ongoing bilateral initiatives including those covered by the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) such as training of Bangladeshi railway personnel, collaborations on various IT systems for Bangladesh Railway, training for Bangladesh judicial officers and cooperation on science and technology including space science also came into received due importance in the joint statement. Earlier, the two leaders also virtually inaugurated the 1320 MW coal-fired thermal power plant at Rampal in Khulna as well as four major connectivity projects including a rail bridge on Rupsha River and some railway links.  

The two countries also agreed that funds for these projects would be arranged through various financial instruments under the bilateral development cooperation. However, barring the accord on sharing the water of Kushiyara River, which would enable Bangladesh to withdraw 153 cusecs of water from the river during the dry seasons, there was not much progress on other fronts. The major irritant between the two countries, the sharing of Teesta water, remains unresolved. Expectations in Dhaka were that the prime minister's New Delhi visit will be able to achieve major a breakthrough in this regard. However, emerging from the summit, both the leaders exuded goodwill and confidence that they would work hard in the coming days to make great strides to attain economic growth as well as maintain regional peace, security and stability.  So, people of Bangladesh would look forward to seeing more progress in the resolution of bilateral issues and meaningful cooperation in all areas, including trade, commerce and investment in the days to come. 

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