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Dhaka diaries: What Manmohan is up to

Last updated on: September 6, 2011 15:00 IST

Dhaka diaries: What Manmohan is up to

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Sanchari Bhattacharya in Dhaka

Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya, who is travelling with the prime minister, reports from Dhaka.

Manmohan Singh arrived in Bangladesh for a two-day visit on Tuesday, kicking off his first bilateral visit to a neighbouring nation in the seven years that he has been India's prime minister.

Dr Singh was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

His high-profile delegation also comprises Mizoram's Chief Minister PU Lalthanhawla, Tripura's CM Manik Sarkar, Meghalaya's CM Mukul Sangma and Assam's CM Tarun Gogoi.

Dr Singh was accorded a ceremonial welcome by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and prominent members of her government, including Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and President's advisor Professor Gowhar Rizvi.

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Image: Bangladesh's Prime Minister Hasina greets Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur upon their arrival in Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka
Photographs: Sanchari Bhattacharya/Rediff.com
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The PM received a memorable welcome with a gun salute as well as a guard of honour.

The Hazrat Shahjalal airport had been turned into a virtual fortress with members of elite Bangladeshi security forces keeping a hawk's eye on proceedings.

Giant posters of Dr Singh and Sheikh Hasina smiling away to glory, along with a welcome message on a bright red banner, welcomed the Indian contingent.

From the airport, the PM headed straight to the National Mausoleum at Savar to pay his respects to slain Muktijoddhas, those who were martyred during the War of Liberation with Pakistan in 1971.

Dr Singh and his wife are also scheduled to host a lunch for the who's who of the Bangladesh administration.

The PM will then meet Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, considered to be one of the most influential members of Sheikh Hasina's cabinet.

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Image: Giant posters of Dr Singh and Sheikh Hasina at the Hazrat Shahjalal airport
Photographs: Sanchari Bhattacharya/Rediff.com
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Next on the agenda is a closed-door meeting between the two premiers at the Bangladeshi prime minister's office in Shimul, followed by delegation-level talks.

But the highlight of the day will be the formal inking of several agreements between Dr Singh and Sheikh Hasina.

After the fiasco over the Teesta treaty, wary foreign ministry officials have refused to share any information on which deals would finally be signed on Tuesday. But India and Bangladesh are expected to sign a host of crucial agreements in a variety of fields including trade, transit, security cooperation, textiles, forestry, environment and culture.

After issuing a joint press statement, the two PMs will head to the banquet hosted by Sheikh Hasina for her Indian counterpart in the night.

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Image: Bangladesh's PM Hasina greets Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
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Dr Singh has an equally packed itinerary on Wednesday, the last day of his Bangladesh visit. He will start the day with a much-awaited speech at the Dhaka University, where he will talk to the students about India, Bangladesh and the intricacies of foreign relations in south Asia.

The PM is then scheduled to meet Bangladesh President Zillur Rehman, before heading to the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, which is dedicated to 'Father of Bangladesh' Mujibur Rehman.

He will also meet Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party leader General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, before winding up his whirlwind trip.

Image: Indian PM Singh and Hasina review an honour guard at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
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