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Development projects to top the agenda of the India-Bangladesh summit on December 17


Cross-border development and connectivity projects are expected to top the agenda of a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on December 17.

The meeting will also focus on boosting bilateral relations after they were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and Bangladesh’s doubts about the National Citizens Register (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). people familiar with the developments said on condition of anonymity.

The two prime ministers will hold “in-depth discussions on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship, including strengthening cooperation in the post-Covid era,” the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

As HT first reported last month, the two sides are expected to sign four memoranda of understanding (MoU) during the virtual summit.

The Chilahati-Haldibari rail link, which was closed during the 1965 war with Pakistan, will be reactivated during the summit and the two leaders will inaugurate some more projects, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Sunday, in Dhaka. This will be the fifth rail link between the two countries.

Momen said that the “Swadhinata Sarak”, a road linking India with Mujibnagar, the city in Bangladesh’s Meherpur district where the provisional government was formed in 1971, will open on March 26 next year to mark 50 years of the independence of the country and to empower the people. -connections with people.

Prime Minister Modi, who had to cancel a visit to Bangladesh this year due to the pandemic, is expected to attend independence day celebrations next year.

Momen said the Bangladesh side will raise all issues, including river water exchange, at the next summit. Describing India as a “time-tested friend of Bangladesh,” Momen said it was necessary to acknowledge the contributions of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to the country’s independence.

The Bangladesh side is expected to raise the issue of sharing the waters of the Teesta River. The two sides completed negotiations on an agreement to share water in Teesta in 2011, but the agreement has since been delayed due to opposition from West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

Before the virtual summit, Indian envoy Vikram Doraiswami met with Hasina on December 10 and informed her of the Indian prime minister’s desire to boost ties. A planned visit to New Delhi on December 8 by Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen was unable to continue as he tested positive for Covid-19.

With China stepping up development aid to Bangladesh, New Delhi has worked to eliminate irritants in links with Dhaka and has accelerated work on connectivity and transit projects. In July, India provided 10 railway locomotives to Bangladesh, days after the first container train headed to the Bangladesh side and the first shipment of goods was sent from Kolkata to Tripura via Chattogram port.

On December 4, the inauguration ceremony of the 130 km India-Bangladesh Friendship Oil Pipeline was held, which will supply fuel from the Numaligarh refinery in Assam to a depot in Dinajpur in Bangladesh.

Hindustan Times