Hasina-Modi virtual Summit Thursday

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will hold a virtual Summit on Thursday as the two time-tested friends look for joint celebrations of mega events in 2021 and stronger collaboration in post-COVID era.

Bangladesh and India will chart out plans to take the “rock-solid and historic” Dhaka-Delhi relations to the next level expanding areas of cooperation between the two countries following the Summit.

Bangladesh is celebrating birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; and will celebrate 50 years of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, and the establishment of India-Bangladesh bilateral diplomatic ties in year 2021.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 11:30am, said an official.

The Summit will be preceded by the signing ceremony of the MoUs/Protocols on the same day.

Bangladesh and India are likely to sign “four-five” bilateral documents.

“I don’t want to make any comment before the meeting but four-five bilateral documents are on the table to get signed apart from inauguration of a number of development projects,” a senior official told UNB on Tuesday evening.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen will brief the media at State guesthouse Padma at 2:30pm.

Cooperation documents in the areas of Elephant Preservation/Protection, Sewerage Treatment Plant in Barishal, Community Development Project and Energy Cooperation (Hydrocarbon) are likely to be signed between the two countries on Thursday.

Cooperation in the field of information technology will also be discussed.

Ahead of the Summit, Bangladesh said two countries, as the closest neighbours, will continue to work together to establish a secure South Asia for the benefit of all people.

“What is needed is the positive mindset of our peoples towards relations. Equally, we need to understand each other’s concerns, risks and vulnerabilities as well as opportunities,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said.

Bangladesh sees the virtual Summit going to be held between two Prime Ministers is testimony to the joint commitment to our shared history.

Indian side sad the two Prime Ministers will hold “comprehensive discussions” on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship during virtual Summit.

They will discuss ways to further strengthening cooperation in the post COVID-19 era, said the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Monday officially announcing the virtual Summit.

India and Bangladesh have continued to maintain regular exchanges at the highest level, MEA said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid an official visit to India in October 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a video message on the historic occasion of Mujib Borsho in March 2020.

Both leaders have remained in regular touch during the COVID pandemic, MEA said.

Foreign Minister Dr Momen said Bangladesh will raise all the big issues including water and border ones during the virtual Summit.

“We’ll raise our major issues, which we usually raise,” he told reporters at his office adding that a number of “quick-impact” projects will be inaugurated, too.

Chilahati-Haldibari rail link, a pre-1965 connectivity line, would be inaugurated along with some other projects during the virtual Summit.

The Foreign Minister, however, said the month of Victory will come up in a big way in the meeting because it is also a victory for India as they helped Bangladesh achieve victory. “We must acknowledge the contributions of the then Indian Prime Minister.”

Dr Momen said the relations between Bangladesh and India is a historic and blood-relations and India is a time-tested friend of Bangladesh. “So, India has reasons to be proud of our victory.”

He recalled the then governments of India and the United Kingdom for bringing Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman back to home alive. “We must acknowledge it.”

The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh and India are witnessing a golden chapter in their relations. “Two countries have set an example by resolving issues like LBA and maritime boundaries through dialogue and discussion.”

He said they believe that the two countries can resolve all the issues through discussion. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has shown the leadership maturity in resolving problems.”

Responding to a question, Dr Momen said a Swadhinata Sarak will be opened marking the 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence on March 26 next year.

He said the road remains functional on the Indian side while it will be connected through Mujibnagar, Meherpur district. “It will help boost people to people contact between the two countries.”

Bangladesh has invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Bangladesh on March 26 in person to jointly celebrate the Independence Day of Bangladesh. The Indian side accepted the invitation in principle.

In March this year, the two Prime Ministers joined a virtual meeting of Saarc countries on cooperation to deal with the Covid-19 situation in the region.

Water sharing issue of the common rivers issues is likely to be discussed broadly later as the two countries are planning to have a technical-level meeting within a week after the Summit, a senior official indicated.

Then water resources Secretary-level meeting will be held early next year to prepare ground for the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting.

Source: United News of Bangladesh