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Sheikh Hasina, PM Narendra Modi to meet in Delhi on April 8

sheikh-hasinaNEW DELHI: Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh PM, will be the first neighborhood leader to visit India after PM Modi received a political endorsement with the recent state elections. Sheikh Hasina’s visit has already been postponed twice, once in December and once in February. The visit will be important, possibly one of her last before she goes into election mode. India has been a strong supporter of Sheikh Hasina’s government, but this time both countries plan to take it to the next level with a number of agreements planned. She is expected to visit Ajmer along with holding discussions with the top leadership in New Delhi. Bangladesh is keen to seal a water sharing pact with India, but since 2011, Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal CM, has stood in opposition. The Modi government plans to circumvent this problem by working out an agreement that will be acceptable to all concerned. India and Bangladesh are also looking at a pact on maritime security cooperation, which may be both bilateral as well as under the rubric of BIMSTEC. During foreign secretary S. Jaishankar’s recent visit to Dhaka, both countries surveyed the relationship with some satisfaction. In fact, Bangladesh has emerged as India’s most successful neighborhood relationship, with both countries going out of their way to accommodate the concerns of the other, despite the fact that there remain residual problems on both sides. A statement issued at the end of Jaishankar’s visit said, “there has been excellent implementation of decisions taken during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in June 2015. Both sides also took stock of decisions taken during the recent meetings of various bilateral mechanisms in the areas of Security & Border Management, Trade and Commerce, Power, Energy, Shipping, Railways etc.” The last mentioned will come in for some greater attention in the near future, if India’s plan to send a freight container from Dhaka to Istanbul via Pakistan and Iran work out. It would be a new way of looking at connectivity and trade from South Asia.

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