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PM Hasina to visit India in April

DHAKA, Feb 23: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit India in the first half of April, her close aide said today after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar called on the Bangladeshi leader here.

“This will be a reciprocal visit of our Prime Minister which will take place in the first half of April,” Hasina’s Deputy Press Secretary M Nazrul Islam told PTI.

Jaishankar, who arrived here on a two-day trip after wrapping up his China visit, called on Hasina at her office and the meeting lasted for nearly 30 minutes during which the Foreign Secretary briefed her on recent developments in India-Bangladesh relations and the region.

He also discussed preparatory aspects of Hasina’s proposed visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had invited her during his Dhaka visit in 2015.

Hasina 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 Teesta water sharing issue given the preoccupation of the Indian government post-demonetisation and the unease in relations between the Centre and West Bengal, a key stakeholder in the issue.

During the talks, Jaishankar raised the issue of SAARC and drew her attention to its current deadlock when the premier said “we should not let it die”.

Hasina told Jaishankar that the two neighbours so far settled different outstanding issues like Land Boundary and enclave problems and “we could solve any problem through discussion if we have good intention”, the spokesman said.

Officials earlier said the long pending issue of the Teesta water sharing and the proposed Ganges Barrage were the major yet to be settled concerns of Dhaka.

“Jaishankar told the Prime Minister that Dhaka-Delhi ties would be strengthened further through her visit,” Islam said.

Hasina, he said, also sought more discussions on the implementation of the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) motor vehicle agreement alongside enhanced cooperation in other sectors for peoples’ welfare.

“The BBIN initiative should be effective and we should solve any problem regarding the initiative through discussion,” the spokesman quoted the premier as saying.

He said Jaishankar conveyed India’s willingness to take more development projects in Bangladesh as per its need.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, PM’s Principal Secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla were also present at the meeting.

Jaishankar also met his Bangladeshi counterpart Shahidul Haque and reviewed the areas of bilateral cooperation.

“Both sides noted with appreciation that there has been excellent implementation of decisions taken during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi.

He said both sides 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. (PTI)

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