Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bangladesh Prime Minister Visits India

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has paid a state visit to India. During her stay, India extended $1-billion Line of Credit (LoC) to Bangladesh as the two countries today took bilateral ties to a new plane, signing five accords to combat terrorism and consolidate trade, economic and cultural links.
This was the highest single LoC pledged by New Delhi to any nation, which would be utilised for development projects, like rail lines, locomotives and supply of buses, official sources said after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Significant Announcement
Manmohan Singh also announced 250 MW of electricity for Bangladesh from the central grid. Another significant announcement was New Delhi’s approval to allow Bangladesh access to Nepal and Bhutan both by rail and road. The two sides also decided to establish a rail link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in India. It was also agreed that Ashuganj in Bangladesh and Silghat in India would be the ports of call between the two countries. India also announced 300 scholarships for Bangladeshi students.
The counter-terror agreements signed by the two countries after the talks between the two prime ministers were on “Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons, and combating international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug trafficking. The two countries also inked a power cooperation agreement and a cultural exchange programme.
India pulled out all stops to accord a grand welcome to Sheikh Hasina as she began her four-day state visit. After she received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the visiting leader called on President Pratibha Patil and later held talks with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.

Range of Bilateral Issues
The two prime ministers held delegation-level talks at which they are learnt to have discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, situation in the region and international developments. Describing Sheikh Hasina’s visit as a milestone, Manmohan Singh said India looked forward to establishing a forward-looking and multifaceted relationship with Bangladesh.
Reiterating their mutual desire to resolve all bilateral issues through negotiations, the two prime ministers decided to establish a mechanism for comprehensive cooperation. Sources said the two sides also discussed the challenges posed to their security by terrorists and insurgents.
It is understood that the two prime ministers discussed sharing of river waters, resolution of the maritime border dispute and the promotion of bilateral trade and connectivity. Manmohan Singh assured Sheikh Hasina that India would not do anything on the controversial Tipahimukh Project that would affect the interests of Bangladesh.

Hasina Gets Indira Gandhi Prize
Sheikh Hasina was conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development. The award was introduced by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust in 1986, two years after the Indian prime minister was assassinated. Past recipients of the award include former US president Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Namibia's independence movement hero Sam Nujoma. The last recipient was Mohamed El Baradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The visit of the Bangladesh Premier was a path-breaking one and provided both countries an opportunity to build a new and forward-looking partnership.

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