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Bangladesh PM arrives in India
March 20, 2006 20:06 IST
Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is hopeful that her India trip will create conditions for 'perceptible improvement' in the content of bilateral ties and usher in a 'new phase' in friendship and cooperation.
In a statement issued on her arrival in New Delhi on Monday for a three-day trip, Zia said that during her visit she was looking forward to very candid and constructive discussions with our friends in India. The Bangladesh prime minister, who is on her maiden visit to India, was received by Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran at the Palam Airport.
"I hope that as a result of our discussions it would be possible for us to create conditions for perceptible improvement in the content of our cooperative relations," Zia said, adding that the potential for bilateral relations was immense and that it would be her desire to discuss with Dr Singh and other Indian leaders how to fully realise it. Zia is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Morshed Khan and Finance Minister Saifur Rahman.
The two countries are likely to sign three pacts, including Double Tax Avoidance Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement. During the talks between Zia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which will be held in New Delhi on Tuesday, India is likely to seek Dhaka's cooperation in ending terrorism emanating from Bangladesh and illegal immigration.
Ahead of her arrival, Finance Minister P Chidambaram indicated India's readiness to allow easy access to Bangladeshi goods here - a persistent demand of Dhaka, which has been seeking removal of tax barriers for the same. Noting that India was a bigger economy, he said, "We must be able to absorb their (neighbouring countries) exports. What is the point in calling ourselves a regional economic power if we cannot help our neighbours?"
"Bangladesh remains poor... What will happen is more people from Bangladesh will migrate to India. And that is what is happening," Chidambaram added.
"Both India and Bangladesh registered impressive economic and social progress recently," Zia said, noting, "However, many of our problems still remain daunting. We can overcome these problems only through cooperation in an environment of peace and stability."
The Bangladesh prime minister said she would like to utilize the visit to discuss all issues of relevance to her country's multi-faceted relations. Noting that she was coming to India with tremendous goodwill of the people of her country, Zia said the two countries were close neighbours and their bonds of friendship were deeply rooted in the history.
India has reiterated that the visit should be seen in the context of the policy of sustained and continuous high-level engagement that New Delhi has instituted with Dhaka. "Bangladesh is a close and friendly neighbour and the visit is testimony to the importance that both countries attach to bilateral relations," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.
Dr Singh and Zia had last met in Dhaka in November last year on the sidelines of the 13th SAARC Summit after which the Indian prime minister had said that Bangladesh had indicated 'some positive steps' on curbing North East insurgent camps on its soil.
He also said that there were 'no insurmountable' issues between the two countries and that India was willing to remove 'any misgivings' that may exist in Dhaka.