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India, Bangladesh ink 7 pacts  

Bangladesh is now India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade has grown from $9 billion to $18 billion in the last five years…reports Asian Lite News

India and Bangladesh signed seven Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) in New Delhi on Tuesday aimed at boosting ties between the two countries.

The MoUs, signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, are related to water sharing, railways, space, science and judiciary.

Prime Minister Modi said that the trade between the two countries is rapidly increasing, adding that: “We have decided to extend cooperation in the IT, space and nuclear sectors.”

The pacts inked between the two countries will benefit southern parts of Assam in India and the Sylhet region in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Modi said.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, he welcomed Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhavan, where she was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honour.

Following the signing of the MoUs, senior officials from both sides exchanged the agreements.

Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs tweeted: “Powering the India-Bangladesh partnership! PM @narendramodi and PM Sheikh Hasina jointly unveiled Unit-I of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Project. Being constructed under India’s concessional financing scheme, the Project will add 1320 MW to Bangladesh’s National Grid.”

The Maitree Power Plant will give citizens of Bangladesh access to affordable electricity.

“Bangladesh is the biggest trade partner in the region. The people-to-people connectivity between both countries have increased. The expansion of connectivity and trade infrastructure at borders will help in the growth of both countries,” Prime Minister Modi said.

He asserted that both countries will cooperate further to mitigate the impact of floods and data will be shared in real-time for an extended period.

On counter-terrorism, the Prime Minister said: “Today we also stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism. To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very necessary that we face such forces together, who want to attack our mutual trust.”

The Bangladesh Prime Minister last visited India in 2019.

Prime Minister Modi had visited Bangladesh in 2021 – the year that marked the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh independence and the 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation and the father of Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina.

Also, in 2021, Maitri Diwas celebrations were held in 20 capitals around the world including Delhi and Dhaka.

Bangladesh is an important partner under India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. The cooperation extends to all fields including security, trade and commerce, power and energy, transport and connectivity, science and technology, defence, rivers, maritime affairs among others.

Bangladesh is now India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade has grown from $9 billion to $18 billion in the last five years.

Bangladesh has become the fourth largest export destination for India with growth of over 66 per cent from $9.69 billion in FY 2020-21 to $16.15 billion in FY 2021-22.

Teesta water sharing issue to be resolved, says Hasina

Meanwhile, Hasina expressed hope that the row over sharing water of Teesta river — a key bone of contention between her country and India — will be resolved soon.

“Both the countries have resolved several long-standing issues keeping the spirit of cooperation and friendship in mind. I hope that all other issues, including water sharing of Teesta river, would be resolved soon,” the visiting Bangladeshi Prime Minister said.

Disagreements between the two countries over the allocation of the river water has remained a subject of conflict for several decades. Many meetings held on the issue could not produce much results.

Bangladesh has been demanding an equal share in the distribution of the river water.

In this direction, a treaty was also to be signed between India and Bangladesh in 2011 during then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to the neighbouring country.

However, the agreement could not be inked due to stiff opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Hasina, who is on a four-day tour to India, said: “The water is emerging from the Indian side… Hence, India should show its large-heartedness.”

The Bangladeshi Prime Minister said she hopes that her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will look into all the issues pertaining to the bilateral relationship, including Teesta water sharing.

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