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Modi lays out red carpet for Hasina, but no Teesta pact

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 07, 2017 22:14 IST

During Hasina's visit, which is her first after Modi assumed office in 2014, the two sides will be signing at least 25 pacts in various key sectors including civil nuclear cooperation and defence, but any agreement on the Teesta water sharing is unlikely to be inked.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Friday on a four-day visit during which she will hold wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at the airport to receive her as a special gesture.

During Hasina’s visit, which is her first after Modi assumed office in 2014, the two sides will be signing at least 25 pacts in various key sectors including civil nuclear cooperation and defence but any agreement on the Teesta water sharing is unlikely to be inked.

Modi and Hasina, who is staying at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, will hold comprehensive discussions on Saturday. India is also set to announce a line of credit of $500 million (Rs 3,200 crore) to Bangladesh for military supplies.

Apart from a ‘courtesy call on’ by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Hasina's schedule on Friday included events at the Bangladesh High Commission.

Officials in New Delhi said, “It will be a visit without water, indicating that a pact on Teesta river waters is not on the cards.

“The central government will not go ahead with the agreement on Teesta without taking West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on board and she has been opposing it stridently citing water crisis in the state.”

However, the two sides are looking at the inking of a framework agreement on civil nuclear energy which will provide for extensive cooperation in the sector including setting up of nuclear reactors in Bangladesh by India.

“It will be a very, very special visit. We hope the visit will take the ties between the two countries to new level,” Joint Secretary in the Bangladesh-Myanmar division of the external affairs ministry Sripriya Ranganathan told reporters.

On Teesta pact, she said, “Teesta agreement remains a work in progress...We have not reached a closure on it.”

The Teesta deal was set to be signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September 2011, but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by Banerjee.

Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

Issues like combating terrorism, containing radicalism and enhancing security cooperation between the two countries are likely to figure prominently, besides stalemate over the Teesta pact during talks between Modi and Hasina.

The West Bengal chief minister has accepted an invitation by the government to attend the launch of some projects between the two countries as well as a lunch to be hosted by Modi in honour of Hasina.

On the agreements, Ranganathan said another pact on formalising regular defence engagements will also be signed.

To boost trade, the two sides are likely to announce setting up of another set of trade facilitation huts along the borders in the North-eastern region.

Hasina will visit Ajmer on Sunday and will meet Indian business leaders on Monday.

Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo is the minister-in-waiting for the Bangladesh PM.

Images: Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina at the Delhi Airport on Friday. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo.

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