The Narendra Modi government will host Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from April 7 to 10, having had to postpone the visit twice in the last three months. The two sides are likely to firm up agreements on defence, counter-terrorism, connectivity and trade, sources said. This will be Hasina’s first bilateral visit since January 2010, although she was in Goa in October 2016 to attend a BIMSTEC meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.
Dhaka confirmed the visit on Tuesday afternoon and New Delhi announced it a few hours later at night. Both issued identical statements.
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The two sides said the aim of the visit would be to expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between the neighbours. Hasina would travel to India after seven years on an invitation extended by Prime Minister Modi, it said.
The two leaders will hold official talks in New Delhi on April 8.
“The upcoming visit is expected to further expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between India and Bangladesh and build on the strong ties of friendship and trust between the two leaders,” said the statement issued by the two sides.
Hasina’s trip comes two years after Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. She was expected to travel to India in December 2016 but her visit was postponed amid speculation that it was not a suitable time to discuss the Teesta water-sharing, given the preoccupation of the Indian government post-demonetisation and the unease in relations between the Centre and the West Bengal government, a key stakeholder in the matter.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar in February met Hasina in Dhaka, after which Bangladesh announced that the visit would happen in April. Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla, after meeting Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, on Tuesday said they were attaching the “highest importance” to the visit.
Hasina is the head of government of “a neighbouring friendly country with whom we share the longest land boundary. And both land and maritime boundary issues between the two countries have been resolved within a very short time,” Shringla was quoted as saying.
The envoy also said that President Pranab Mukherjee in an “exceptional” gesture invited Hasina to stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Everything is work in progress. We’ll have to see what is possible and what is not possible,” he said, when asked whether there would be any breakthrough on the Teesta water-sharing deal.