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Opinion

Strengthening cooperation and connectivity on the agenda of Thursday’s India-Bangladesh virtual summit

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India and Bangladesh are expected to sign nine agreements to boost cooperation in various areas and reactivate a rail link disrupted by the 1965 war with Pakistan during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday.

Bangladesh focused on the Victory Day celebrations on December 16, the upcoming 50th anniversary of independence in March and the centenary of the birth of its founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the two leaders will release a commemorative stamp and open the ” Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition “. .

Officials from the two sides are finalizing nine memorandums of understanding (MoU) that are expected to be signed during the summit, said Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen. He did not elaborate on the memoranda of understanding.

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The two prime ministers, who will meet for virtually the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak, will witness the reopening of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail route, 55 years after it was broken during the war between India and Pakistan. At that time, Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan.

As part of efforts to improve transportation and connectivity, the two parties have already reopened four of the six rail links that were suspended in 1965: Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur and Radhikapur-Birol. The Haldibari-Chilahati link was part of the main broad gauge route between Calcutta and Siliguri.

People familiar with the events said that, on condition of anonymity, the Haldibari-Chilahati route will improve connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh, and support bilateral trade. Initially, the link will be used to transport goods and passenger movement will begin after the infrastructure is developed.

With Dhaka extending the centenary celebrations of the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Tuesday until December 2021, the new stamp will pay tribute to the father of the nation of Bangladesh, whom Modi has hailed as “one of the greatest personalities of the last century.” .

The “Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition”, which will pay tribute to Rahman and Mahatma Gandhi, will initially be exhibited in New Delhi before traveling to different locations in Bangladesh and the UN and will culminate in Kolkata in 2022. The exhibition will focus on the Jallianwala Bagh and the “Tunnel of Genocide” to portray the pain and suffering suffered by people in the two countries.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Momen also said that Dhaka will raise all major bilateral issues during the summit, including river water exchange, Covid-19 cooperation, border killings, trade imbalance and the Rohingya crisis. .

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He said Bangladesh wants to bring together the seven transboundary rivers – Monu, Muhuri, Gomti, Dharla, Dudhkumar, Feni and Teesta – under one framework and will seek an early meeting of the ministerial Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) to forge a framework to resolve all pending issues.

Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharma has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and New Delhi has pledged to help Dhaka with the vaccines.

Bangladesh is also expected to seek India’s help in resolving Myanmar’s Rohingya refugee crisis, especially after New Delhi begins its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in January.

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