Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today said Dhaka was happy with the outcome of Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina’s talks with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi saying all issues of Bangladesh concerns were raised in the summit.
“We raised all kinds of issues we have with India . . . the summit outcome was very good (and) we are happy,” he told a media briefing outlining the talks results at Padma state guesthouse in the capital.
He said the Bangladesh delegation took lion share of the 1:15 hour summit time while vaccine, water sharing, border killing, trade cooperation and connectivity largely dominated the virtual summit.
“Our Prime Minister drew Narendra Modi’s attention about equitable water sharing of common rivers while the Indian side showed their empathy towards,” Momen said.
The Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Vikram K Doraiswami later also briefed media on New Delhi’s behalf about the summit on the sidelines of which the two countries signed seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and frameworks of understanding (FoUs) on different issues.
Momen said Bangladesh urged India to hold the long pending ministerial level Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting to resolve the proposed Teesta treaty and reach agreements on six other major common rivers namely – Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
“India agreed in principle regarding the (Teesta) agreement much ago but yet to implement it,” he said but simultaneously noted that New Delhi was consulting with domestic stakeholders to get them onboard, in an apparent reference to West Bengal state.
The joint statement issued after the talks said Sheikh Hasina stressed early signing of an interim agreement on Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both the governments in 2011 while Modi reiterated New Delhi’s sincere commitment and continued efforts towards that end.
Momen said the Indian premier assured Dhaka of providing ‘three crore’ or 30 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh as soon as it would be available in India.
“We hope, we will get the vaccine (from India) in a friendship price,” Momen said while the joint statement supplemented him saying New Delhi also offered collaboration in therapeutics and partnership in vaccine production in Bangladesh.
Momen said the issue of border killing remained as a “stigma” despite the current “golden chapter” in bilateral relations and said Modi assured at the summit that he would ask Indian border guards not to use lethal weapon.
The Indian envoy in Dhaka later, however, in his briefing said Indian side assured that they would instruct BSF to use lethal weapons only as the last resort for individual defence.
The joint statement said both the leaders also agreed that loss of civilian lives at the border was a matter of concern and directed the border forces concerned to enhance coordinated measures to bring down such killings to zero level.
The foreign minister said both the prime minister stressed on full implementation of the ongoing Coordinated Border Management Plan to bring down tragic incident like border killing to zero.
Momen said the Bangladesh premier congratulated her counterpart on India’s election to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and simultaneously expected New Delhi’s assistance in Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar.
“The Indian side assured us that they believe the only solution to crisis is repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar and they will do whatever need to do in this regard,” he said.
The foreign minister said during discussions on trade issues, Sheikh Hasina sought removal of India’s non-tariff barriers against Bangladeshi goods to facilitate balanced trading.
The Bangladesh premier urged Modi to inform Dhaka beforehand if they bring any change in their export-import policy as India made essential commodities an important factor influencing Bangladesh’s domestic market.
“The Indian side assured Bangladesh of doing so in this regards, Momen said.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh also showed its willingness to
join the under planned road link from India to Thailand via Myanmar.
“India had proposed Bangladesh to be connected this regional road
network earlier but the then prime minister Khaleda Zia denied to
join,” Momen said, adding that the present government believe more
regional connectivity means more trade.
He said Bangladesh and India discussed ways of cooperation to
expand transportation solutions within the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan,
India and Nepal) region. “We want to see our goods-laden trucks enter
Bhutan and Nepal. We want more connectivity,” he added.
Momen said Bangladesh has appreciated India for resuming flight
operations under special arrangement but proposed India to open up
rail and road communications so that people can resume visiting India
on a larger scale.
The minister said Dhaka proposes to sell electricity to India and
with their cooperation to third countries like Bhutan and Nepal, when
Bangladesh produces excess electricity.
The foreign minister said Sheikh Hasina urged her counterpart to
expedite implementation of projects under the Indian Line of Credit
“We have already formed a committee including Bangladesh ERD
secretary and Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh to monitor
projects under the Indian credit line,” he said.
Dr Momen said India propose Bangladesh to join a development bank
under BRIC (a development coalition comprising Brazil, Russia, India
and China) while Dhaka agreed to the proposal.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed the Indian side to consider
Bangladesh’s proposal to name the historic road from Mujib Nagar to
Nodia on Bangladesh-India border as “Shadhinota Shorok” commemorating
the historic significance of the road during Bangladesh’s Liberation
The foreign minister said India showed keen interest to celebrate
Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman and Bangladesh 50 years of Independence jointly with Dhaka
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Modi for accepting her
invitation to visit Bangladesh in person in March 2021 to join the
celebrations on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s
Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.
In his briefing, the Indian High commissioner said New Delhi’s
leadership believes Bangladesh is one of the most important pillars in
the Indian foreign policy.
“No relation is as important for us as Bangladesh,” Doraiswami said
at Indin High Commission in the capital just after ending of the
About the water sharing of common rivers including Teesta, he said
the Indian side shared their circumstance with Bangladesh during the
Replying a question about Rohingya crisis, the envoy said the
Indian side informed Bangladesh that New Delhi is working hard to
convince Myanmar to create conducive environment in Rakhine for
ensuring a stable repatriation.
“There is no gap between us (India and Bangladesh) in this
particular (Rohingya) issue,” he said.-BSS