Bangladesh-India FOC in Delhi on Friday

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen reached New Delhi on Thursday to attend Bangladesh and India foreign office consultations (FOC) on Friday.

During his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla, the two sides will discuss cooperation in the post-Covid era, including vaccine issue, border management, trade and investment, water resources, security issues, power cooperation such as in renewable energy, connectivity, development cooperation and increasing people-to-people ties.

“We’ll discuss all the agenda that we’ve on the table,” Masud Momen said, hinting at having a comprehensive meeting on the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

He said Bangladesh wants to hear positive news on Teesta water sharing and simultaneously continue discussions on water sharing of other common rivers.

“Ball (on Teesta) is in India’s court. We’ll surely want to see that it gets resolved. We know the Indian central government and state government are yet to fully agree on Teesta,” he said on Wednesday evening after a meeting with the Executive Committee of Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB).

During the December 17 virtual Summit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the need for early signing of an interim agreement for sharing of Teesta water, as agreed upon by both the governments in 2011.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated India’s “sincere commitment” and continued efforts in that regard.

The two leaders underscored the need for early conclusion of Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six joint rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

The Bangladesh side also requested its Indian counterpart to inform its border authorities concerned to allow excavation work on the remaining portion of the Rahimpur Khal for the utilisation of Kushiyara water for irrigation purposes.

Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of its Independence in March and 50 years of diplomatic relations with India this year.

Bangladesh is also celebrating “Mujib Borsho” marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which will continue till December 16 2021.

Bangladesh and India are in talks to hold an in-person summit on March 26 if the Covid-19 situation improves.

Modi’s visit to Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for accepting her invitation to visit Bangladesh to join the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence and 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.

The Foreign Secretary will also discuss the agenda of the meeting between the two prime ministers.

He will meet Indian Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar and hand over a letter of Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen at the meeting.

Earlier, Dr Momen expressed optimism over the fulfilment of Bangladesh’s expectation by India as the two countries maintain a strong, very friendly and historic relationship. “India is the closest friend of Bangladesh. India thinks the same way. I think our expectations will be met,” he told reporters at his office recently.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami has recently said they want to move “very quickly” on water sharing of six common rivers during the celebratory year of 2021 showing that the spirit of partnership and sharing between the two countries remains very strong.

“We see no barrier to sharing (six common rivers) water with Bangladesh. I think we can move very quickly. The main thing is to come up with data,” he told UNB in an interview recently.

The High Commissioner said water is a sensitive topic for everybody and they all need water.

Water resources secretaries will hold a meeting in New Delhi soon.

“We’ve to share the water. We’re friends. We’re neighbours. I think this will move very quickly,” he said expressing his optimism to hold the Joint Rivers Commission meeting in 2021 if the pandemic allows.

The Foreign Secretary will deliver a speech at a programme to be held at the Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS) on January 30.

Masud Momen will also meet diplomats based in New Delhi who are concurrently accredited to Bangladesh.

Source: United News of Bangladesh