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Sheikh Hasina visit: MoUs on defence, civilian n-power set to be inked

PM Modi and Hasina are scheduled to inaugurate a bus and a train service between Kolkata and Khulna.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
April 7, 2017 3:53:22 am
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TWO MEMORANDUMS of Understanding (MoUs) on defence cooperation, including the $500-million line of credit for purchase of defence equipment from India, are likely to be signed between India and Bangladesh when visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

The MoUs will encompass training and exchanges of military personnel, and will be of five-year duration.

The two sides are also expected to sign a major agreement on cyber security, as both are dealing with counter-radicalisation in the wake of threat perception from the Islamic State.

Hasina will arrive on Friday for a four-day visit. The contentious Teesta water-sharing pact will not be signed during the visit. “It will be a visit without water,” a source said.

MEA’s joint secretary (in charge of Bangladesh) Sripriya Ranganathan said, “Teesta agreement remains a work in progress… We have not reached a closure on it.”

The two sides are expected to also seal an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, which will include developing nuclear power plants in Bangladesh and on safety and security of nuclear material. The two leaders are expected to dwell on issues such as combating terrorism, containing radicalism and enhancing security cooperation between the neighbouring countries.

Modi and Hasina are scheduled to inaugurate a bus and a train service between Kolkata and Khulna, and are likely to also finalise an agreement on long-term supply of diesel to Bangladesh from India, besides holding preliminary talks on linking India’s gas grid with that of Bangladesh.

To boost trade, the two sides are likely to announce setting up of another set of trade facilitation haats along the border in the northeastern region.

With Teesta water-sharing pact being ruled out by Indian officials, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meetings with Hasina, Modi and Mukherjee are likely to be key. While she has been resisting to come on board citing water crisis in West Bengal, Bangladesh officials are pinning their hopes on these meetings.

While Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh, the BJP-led Central government’s strained political ties with the West Bengal CM and her party has been the hurdle in signing the deal. “We are hoping that since Prime Minister Modi is politically stronger after the Uttar Pradesh elections, he will be able to persuade the West Bengal CM to close the deal,” a Bangladesh diplomat said.

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