Prime Minister Narendra Modi received his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Friday when she arrived at the Palam technical airforce base for a four-day visit to India.
This is the third time Modi has broken protocol to receive visiting leaders. Earlier, he did so to welcome US President Barack Obama and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, both of them chief guests for the Republic Day celebrations. Usually, a minister of state or a senior official of the External Affairs Ministry receive foreign dignitaries on their visit to India.
Shortly after she landed, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the Bangladesh Prime Minister, and they are understood to have discussed bilateral issues of importance.
During Hasina’s visit, the two sides will be signing at least 25 pacts in various key sectors, including civil nuclear cooperation and defence. However, any agreement on the Teesta water sharing issue is unlikely to be inked. Officials here said, “It will be a visit without water,” indicating that a pact on Teesta river waters is not on the cards.
This is Hasina’s third visit to India in the past three years.
She had earlier come to attend the funeral of President Pranab Mukherjee’s wife Suvra Mukherjee and then for the BIMSTEC summit in Goa last year.
Modi and Hasina will hold bilateral talks on Saturday, where India is set to announce a line of credit of $500 million to Bangladesh for military supplies. Hasina will visit Ajmer on Sunday and meet Indian business leaders the next day.
The two sides are looking at the inking of a framework agreement on civil nuclear energy which will provide for extensive cooperation in the sector, including setting up of nuclear reactors in Bangladesh by India.
In a bid to strengthen trade, the two sides are likely to announce setting up of another set of trade facilitation huts along the borders in the Northeast.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accepted an invitation by the central government to attend the launch of some projects between the two countries and a lunch to be hosted by Modi in the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s honour.