India-Bangladesh ties: On Sheikh Hasina Visit, PM Narendra Modi announces $5 bn credit line

By: | Published: April 9, 2017 4:58 AM

India and Bangladesh on Saturday signed 22 pacts in key sectors, including defence and civil-nuclear, but the long-pending Teesta waters sharing agreement remained elusive, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his government’s commitment for an “early solution”.

The two countries also agreed to confront challenges of terrorism with deeper security and defence cooperation, with Modi terming spread of radicalism as a “grave threat”, not only to the two countries but to the entire region.

India and Bangladesh on Saturday signed 22 pacts in key sectors, including defence and civil-nuclear, but the long-pending Teesta waters sharing agreement remained elusive, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his government’s commitment for an “early solution”.

After holding comprehensive talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Modi announced a new concessional line of credit of $4.5 billion for the neighbouring country and an additional assistance of $500 million to help its military procurement.

“We in India rejoice in our ties with Bangladesh. Ties that have been forged in blood and generations of kinship. Ties that seek a better and secure future for our people,” Modi said at a joint media event with Hasina.

The two countries also agreed to confront challenges of terrorism with deeper security and defence cooperation, with Modi terming spread of radicalism as a “grave threat”, not only to the two countries but to the entire region.

On her part, Hasina, on a visit here after seven years, said her country will continue its zero-tolerance policy towards terror and promised to take all steps to ensure peace and security along Indo-Bangla border. “We agreed that the agenda of our cooperation has to remain focused on purposeful action. We specifically looked at charting new avenues and tapping fresh opportunities in advancing our relationship.” Though the two sides decided to take their ties to a newer level, they could not finalise the long-pending Teesta water-sharing agreement, primarily due to opposition to it by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was present during the launch of new train and bus services between the two countries.

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A new bus and train services were also launched between Kolkata and Khulna in Bangladesh. “India has always stood for the prosperity of Bangladesh and its people. We are a long-standing and trusted development partner of Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh are also determined that the fruits of our cooperation must benefit our people,” Modi said, adding that both sides recognised the need to diversify commercial engagement to boost trade and for greater regional benefit.

In this context he referred to an agreement to open new border haats for trade and said steps being are being taken to put into operation the coastal shipping agreement. Talking about regional connectivity, he said India was looking forward to early implementation of the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicles Agreement which will “usher in a new era of sub-regional integration.” The BBIN initiative was taken after Pakistan stalled a regional transport initiative of SAARC.

The agreements signed today include an MoU on defence cooperation framework pact and extending defence LOC of $500 million by India and on cooperation in the civil nuclear sector under which India will be able to set up nuclear plants in Bangladesh. Under the defence LoC pact, India will supply military hardware to Bangladesh. The other key MoUs inked were on passenger and cruise services on the coastal and protocol route, cooperation on cyber security and cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space The Prime Minister said with fresh assistance of $4.5 billion, India’s resource allocation for Bangladesh has recorded more than $8 billion over the past six years.

“We have also agreed to finance the diesel oil pipeline from Numaligarh to Parbatipur. Our companies are entering into a long-term agreement for the supply of high speed diesel to Bangladesh. We have also agreed on a time table for regular supply till the pipeline is constructed,” he said.

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