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Hasina's trip: Bangladesh may ink six deals with India

January 07, 2010 14:39 IST
India and Bangladesh are expected to sign at least six deals during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi from January 10, including on cooperation on cross-border terrorism and exchange of convicted criminals, officials said in Dhaka on Thursday.

Senior government officials familiar with the talks said Dhaka expected the Memorandums of Understanding to be inked during the premier's upcoming tour, her first official visit to India since coming to power last year, but added that the summit-level talks could yield more deals which could not be predicted.

A foreign ministry source listed the issues for the proposed deals as cooperation on cross-border militancy or terrorism, Indian credit assistance for railway and communication sector development, cooperation on cross-border crime and exchange of convicted criminals, power swap and cooperation on standardisation.

He said sharing of waters in common rivers and particularly in the Teesta, trade gap issue, bilateral and regional connectivity or transit and proposed 'frontier bazaar' were other major issues to come up during the talks.

Foreign secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, however, earlier said the 'summit-level talks between the two premiers could yield tangible outcome on more issues, which could be predicted beforehand.'

Meanwhile, 'Samakal' newspaper reported that Hasina at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening said Bangladesh will sign agreements 'protecting the interests of the country.'

"Nothing will be done which will affect the people's interest or the sovereignty of Bangladesh," the report said quoting Hasina as telling the ministers.

The report came days after main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia asked her archrival not to ink any deal with India 'compromising' with the country's interest.

Zia said Hasina would be welcomed with 'garlands' if she concluded an honourable deal in Delhi but if she failed to preserve the national interest, her path would be 'strewn with thorns' once she returned home.

The remarks sparked debates at home. Ruling Awami League spokesman and joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif criticised Zia for the 'irresponsible comments' saying 'she must know Awami League was not afraid of her threats.'

"How could she know what deals the prime minister will sign during the (New Delhi) visit ... she was the country's prime minister for two previous terms and the nation expect her to play a responsible role," he said.

The Daily Star newspaper also criticised Zia for her 'prejudged' comments.

Anisur Rahman in Dhaka
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