Bangladesh on Saturday requested New Delhi for inking an “interim agreement” on Teesta waters as agreed upon by both the governments in January 2011, said a joint agreement issued after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s talks with counterpart Narendra Modi in the Indian capital.
It said the Bangladesh premier made the request during the official talks with Modi, who said his government was working with all stakeholders in India for an early conclusion of the agreement.
According to the statement the two premiers also directed concerned officials to conclude meanwhile discussions on various aspects relating to sharing of waters of common rivers of the Feni, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
“They appreciated the positive steps taken in respect of Bangladesh’s proposal for jointly developing the Ganges Barrage on the river Padma in Bangladesh.” it said.
The two premiers welcomed the visit of an Indian technical team to Bangladesh, establishment of a ‘Joint Technical Sub Group on Ganges Barrage Project’ and study of the riverine border in the upstream area of project.
“Both leaders directed the concerned officials of the ‘Joint Technical Sub Group’ to meet soon and hoped that the matter would be further taken forward through continued engagement of both sides,” it said.
The statement said the two leaders described terrorism to remain as “one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region” and reiterated their strong commitment to combat it “in all its forms and manifestations”.
“They stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror . . . they shared the view that there should be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.,” it said.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the extent of cooperation between the two countries on security related issues and strongly condemned the recent barbaric terror attacks in India and Bangladesh.
They expressed their conviction that the fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organizations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against States and entities which encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues.
They called on the international community to end selective or partial approaches to combating terrorism and, in this regard, jointly called for the early finalization and adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UNGA.
The two Prime Ministers recognized the need for urgent measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization in the region and beyond and expressed their determination to take concrete measures to further step up cooperation and coordination among law enforcement, intelligence and security organizations of both countries.
“They reiterated their commitment to ensure that their respective territories would not be allowed to be used for any activities inimical to the other,” the statement said.
They underscored the need for effective operationalization of the bilateral Extradition Treaty and, in this regard, welcomed the addendum signed during the visit of Home Minister of Bangladesh to India in July 2016.
“They also lauded the exemplary cooperation on checking the smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes and narcotics. They lauded the signing of Standard Operating Procedures for operationalisation of the MoU on Cooperation between the Coast Guards,” the statement said.
The two Prime Ministers shared the view that effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) would enable better border management to jointly manage the identified vulnerable areas, irregular movement, incidents of violence and tragic loss of lives and ensure a border free of criminal activities.
“Both Prime Ministers reiterated that the number of deaths at the border must be brought down to zero and directed the concerned authorities to work towards that end,” it said.
Both leaders welcomed the SOPs signed between the Indian Border Security Force and the Border Guard Bangladesh to allow use of Indian border roads for construction and maintenance of Border Posts of Border Guard Bangladesh as well as use of medical facilities in remote border stretches.
They also appreciated the fact that meetings of the DCs/DMs of bordering districts on both sides have been held in cluster format since 2014. The two leaders agreed to foster mutually beneficial and deeper defence cooperation, taking into account the illustrious history of the cooperation, which began with the joint operation of both forces during Bangladesh’s Great Liberation War in December 1971.
They noted that the first ever visit by the Defence Minister of India to Bangladesh in November 2016 was a significant step towards a new level of cooperation based on current goodwill and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries.
The two leaders emphasized the need to further strengthen and consolidate defence cooperation through greater military-to-military training and exchanges.
They complimented the two armed forces for their professional conduct during Joint Search and Rescue Operations in the Bay of Bengal leading to the rescue of a large number of fishermen from both sides and the recent initiatives to enhance cooperation in the field of HADR activities.
The two leaders welcomed the conclusion of MoUs on Defence Cooperation, Defence Line of Credit, as well as cooperation between various defence training institutes.
They welcomed the operationalization of the Coastal Shipping Agreement signed in June 2015 and noted that it had resulted in the desired objective of improving connectivity and enhancing bilateral trade.
They also appreciated the commencement of transshipment of goods through the Ashuganj River Port under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT). Both sides stressed the need to expedite the construction of the Ashuganj Inland Container Port (ICP) and suggested inclusion of more ports of call under the PIWTT framework.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of an MoU on passenger and cruise vessels on coastal and protocol routes.
Both leaders shared the view that enhanced air connectivity between the two countries will boost people to people contacts as well as promote greater tourism, trade and investment flows.
The two premiers noted with satisfaction the continued progress towards restoration of the erstwhile railway linkages as they jointly inaugurated the newly restored railway link between Radhikapur (India) and Birol (Bangladesh) which will facilitate cargo movement between the two countries.
They also witnessed the trial run of passenger train between Khulna and Kolkata and welcomed the fact that the full-fledged service in this sector will be operational by July 2017.
The two leaders, the joint statement said, welcomed the decision taken to improve passenger facilities on the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express.
“These include increase in frequency of the service, introduction of fully air-conditioned service on this sector and end-to-end customs and immigration clearances once the International Railway Terminus is established at Chitpur, Kolkata by August 2017,” it said.
The two Prime Ministers appreciated the progress made with respect to the new railway link between Akhaura and Agartala, including land acquisition, so as complete the link by the end of 2018.
They also welcomed the signing of an MoU between Container Corporation of India and Container Company of Bangladesh Limited, which is expected to lead to greater cooperation in freight operations. The two sides agreed to examine the request of Bangladesh to establish a new rail link between Panchagarh (Bangladesh) to Siliguri (India).
During the talks, the two Prime Ministers affirmed that the relationship between India and Bangladesh was anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities between the two countries.
They emphasized that relations between India and Bangladesh are based on fraternal ties and reflective of an all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that goes far beyond a strategic partnership. They reaffirmed their common aspiration for peace, collective prosperity and development of the region and beyond.
Sheikh Hasina expressed appreciation for Modi’s dynamic leadership of the largest democracy and the bold initiatives taken by him for the overall development of India.
Modi, on the other hand, appreciated the impressive socioeconomic development in Bangladesh and the steps taken by Sheikh Hasina to strengthen democracy in Bangladesh and promote peace, security and stability in the region and beyond. He also commended the Bangladesh premier for her consistent efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in Bangladesh.
The two Prime Ministers condemned the genocide that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971. They solemnly acknowledged the atrocities and called upon the international community to recognize and preserve the memory of those who lost their lives and those who suffered during the genocide.
Modi thanked Bangladesh Prime Minister for her government’s gesture of recognizing the sacrifices made by 1,661 Indian armed forces personnel who laid down their lives in the Great Liberation War of Bangladesh of 1971.
Prime Minister Hasina personally handed over a citation and a crest to the next of kin of 7 Indian officers and soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
The Indian premier announced a special medical scheme under which 100 Muktijoddhas of Bangladesh will be provided medical treatment in Indian hospitals every year.
He also extended the Muktijoddha Scholarship Scheme for 10,000 heirs of Muktijhoddhas for another 5 years.
The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the continued exchange of high-level visits that have helped achieve a better understanding on many of the issues.
They also appreciated the regular holding of meetings of sector specific institutional mechanisms in the areas of security and defence, trade and commerce, health, power and energy, transport and connectivity, etc. for effective follow-up of decisions taken by them in June 2015 in Dhaka.
The two Prime Ministers agreed that the Joint Consultative Commission led by the two Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs would continue to coordinate, oversee and follow-up implementation of initiatives as well as explore new avenues for cooperation. They also agreed to hold the next session of the Joint Consultative Commission in 2017 in Dhaka.
Modi congratulated Sheikh Hasina for successful organization of the 136th IPU Assembly in Dhaka from April 1-5, 2017.
The two Prime Ministers noted with pleasure the excellent exchanges between Indian and Bangladeshi parliamentarians and encouraged them to further enhance their interaction.
They also noted meetings and coordination between parliamentarians of both countries during the meetings of International Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s abiding commitment to supporting Bangladesh in its efforts to build infrastructure and develop human resources capacity in Bangladesh. In this context, he conveyed India’s readiness to meet future needs of Bangladesh in all spheres including education, health, skill development, energy, infrastructure, S & T, information technology, e-governance, emerging high technology areas, etc.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction over ongoing capacity building programmes for Bangladeshi civil servants, judicial officers, military personnel, paramilitary personnel, police, specialized departments like fire service, customs & narcotics control, scientists including nuclear scientists, teachers and others through training and fellowships in India.
The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the excellent progress made in the utilization of the first line of credit of US$ 862 million, as well as identification of specific projects for the second LOC of US$ 2 billion extended by India to Bangladesh. Many of the projects under the first LOC have already been implemented and have helped enhance capacities in transport and build infrastructure in vital areas such as roads, railways, bridges, inland waterways, etc.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the identification of a number of projects in the areas of port construction, railways, roads, airports, power & energy, telecommunications, shipping etc in Bangladesh to be implemented under the 3rd Line of Credit of US$ 4.5 billion being given by Government of India. Both sides agreed that given the common legacy of jurisprudence, there is an opportunity for greater exchange of visits, training and capacity building activities between the judicial services of the two countries. The two sides welcomed the signing of a MoU on Judicial Sector Cooperation and the decision to organize training and capacity building of Bangladeshi judicial officers in India.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Modi for supporting various public interest projects in Bangladesh as fully funded grant-in-aid projects. These include city improvement projects in Rajshahi, Sylhet and Khulna; and setting up of 36 community’s clinics in identified districts.
The two Prime Ministers underlined the need for bringing about greater integration of power and energy supply networks as well as cooperation in the field of energy efficiency between the two countries.
They lauded the positive momentum in cooperation between India and Bangladesh in the power sector and the achievements so far in line with Bangladesh’s goal of ensuring power for sustainable development of all by 2021.
They appreciated that 600 MW of power is currently flowing through the two existing interconnections between India and Bangladesh at Bheramara-Bahrampur and Tripura-South Comilla.
The two Prime Ministers also expressed satisfaction at the continued engagement on all power sector related proposals, including additional 500 MW of power through the existing Bheramara-Bahrampur inter- connection.
They also welcomed the consensus on the proposed additional interconnection between Bornagar (Assam, India), Parbatipur (Bangladesh), Katihar (Bihar, India) for power evacuation facilities from which Bangladesh can draw 1000 MW of power from Assam-Bihar transmission through Bangladesh with suitable tapping points at Parbatipur (Bangladesh).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed satisfaction at the regular supply of 100 MW of power from Tripura to Comilla since March 2016 and on the inauguration of the supply of additional 60 MW from Tripura. She also welcomed further discussions that have been initiated regarding the supply of 340 MW from various NTPC stations.
The two Prime Ministers emphasized the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in the areas of power, water resources, trade, transit and connectivity for mutual benefit.
They welcomed the fact that a Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Bangladesh, Bhutan and India for Cooperation in the field of Hydroelectric Power had been worked out and noted that it would be signed at an occasion when leaders of all three countries would be present together.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested Prime Minister Modi for facilitation of cross-border power sector cooperation with Nepal.
The two Prime Ministers also expressed their appreciation for the growing bilateral cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy, especially in training and capacity building. In this regard, the leaders welcomed the signing of the inter- Governmental Agreement for cooperation in the field of Civil Nuclear Energy and other agreements related to nuclear cooperation.
The two Prime Ministers agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in energy efficiency and welcomed the signing of the MoU between Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) of India and Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) of Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Modi appreciated the progress made in respect of Indian private sector investments in the power sector of Bangladesh and hoped that more Indian investments would follow, including possibilities of joint ventures between Indian and Bangladeshi companies.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the holding of two rounds of the India- Bangladesh Energy Dialogue based on the decision taken by the two Prime Ministers in June 2015. The Dialogue has taken forward energy cooperation in the fields of supply of, inter alia, High Speed Diesel (HSD), natural gas, LNG, LPG, trans-boundary pipelines etc.Both Prime Ministers also welcomed the signing of an MOU between Petrobangla and Petronet for the setting up of a Joint Venture Re- gasification LNG Terminal at Kutubdia Island.
The two Prime Ministers directed the concerned agencies to work speedily to conclude their negotiations for supply of R-LNG to possible demand centres in Jessore- Khulna region, on possibility of gas grid interconnectivity between India and Jhenaidah-Khulna pipeline in Bangladesh, set up an LPG import terminal by IOCL at Kutubdia and build an LPG pipeline that will serve the needs of Bangladesh as well as the North Eastern Region of India.
The signing of an MOU between the Geological Survey of India and the Geological Survey of Bangladesh in the field of earth sciences was seen as a positive step in cooperation in this field.
The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the steady progress made between Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) towards construction of the Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline from Siliguri to Parbatipur for supply of HSD to Bangladesh and both sides have agreed to sign a Sales and Purchase Agreement in this regard.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister Modi for financing the pipeline construction as a grant-in-aid project. The leaders welcomed the delivery of the first goodwill consignment of 2200 MT of diesel at Parbatipur in March 2016 and subsequent deliveries in December 2016 and January 2017.
They also welcomed the signing of MoU in April 2016 between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), including for setting up of an LPG Terminal in Bangladesh and constructing an LPG pipeline. The two Prime Ministers noted the current level of bilateral trade between the two countries and agreed that it has potential for growth. In this regard, they emphasized the need to remove all trade barriers including removal of port restrictions to facilitate trade between the two countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also drew attention of Prime Minister Modi to recent imposition of anti-dumping duties by Indian authorities on export of Jute from Bangladesh and requested him to review this decision. India assured that it would look into the matter.
Bangladesh also assured India to consider India’s request for doing away with the discriminatory regime of ‘Minimum Import Price’ in respect of import of certain products from India to Bangladesh.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the growth of trade and investment in the recent years. They appreciated that during the visit Indian private sector signed agreements that will result in investment of over USD 9 billion in Bangladesh.
Both Prime Ministers directed their respective officials to set up Indian Special Economic Zones (SEZ) quickly on the identified locations. Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation to Prime Minister Hasina for assigning an area of 1005 acres at Mirsarai for setting up an Indian SEZ.
The two Prime Ministers expressed optimism that these SEZs will encourage Indian businessmen to bring in more investment to Bangladesh.
In line with their common resolve to upgrade the infrastructure of the Land Customs Stations (LCSs)/Land Ports/Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) in a coordinated manner to further facilitate the flow of goods and people across the borders, both leaders welcomed the inauguration of the Petrapole ICP, Phulbari-Banglabandha Immigration Check-post and Srimantapur LCS.
PM Sheikh Hasina appreciated India’s initiative to develop 7 more ICPs on the India-Bangladesh border in a phased manner. Both leaders directed their respective agencies to ensure that developmental work including construction of ICPs/Land Ports will be allowed within 150 yards of the zero line, on the basis of prior intimation and approval from the other side.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the revision of the Memorandum of Understanding on Border Haats between the two countries, which will ease up the existing conditions for operation of Border Haats and enable opening up of more Border Haats, based on the positive experience of the four operational Border Haats.
They underlined the need to establish more Border Haats at mutually agreed locations and directed the concerned officials to expeditiously take steps to facilitate opening of additional Border Haats at these locations.
The two Prime Ministers stressed the need to improve market access and remove barriers to trade, including port restrictions on products, to ensure smooth movement of goods across the border.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the operationalization of the Coastal Shipping Agreement signed in June 2015 and noted that it had resulted in the desired objective of improving connectivity and enhancing bilateral trade.
They also appreciated the commencement of transshipment of goods through the Ashuganj River Port under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT).
Both sides stressed the need to expedite the construction of the Ashuganj Inland Container Port (ICP) and suggested inclusion of more ports of call under the PIWTT framework. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of an MoU on passenger and cruise vessels on coastal and protocol routes.
Both leaders shared the view that enhanced air connectivity between the two countries will boost people to people contacts as well as promote greater tourism, trade and investment flows.
The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the continued progress towards restoration of the erstwhile railway linkages. They jointly inaugurated the newly restored railway link between Radhikapur (India) and Birol (Bangladesh) which will facilitate cargo movement between the two countries.
They also witnessed the trial run of passenger train between Khulna and Kolkata and welcomed the fact that the full-fledged service in this sector will be operational by July 2017. They welcomed the decision taken to improve passenger facilities on the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express.
These include increase in frequency of the service, introduction of fully air-conditioned service on this sector and end-to-end customs and immigration clearances once the International Railway Terminus is established at Chitpur, Kolkata by August 2017.
The two Prime Ministers appreciated the progress made with respect to the new railway link between Akhaura and Agartala, including land acquisition, so as complete the link by the end of 2018. They also welcomed the signing of an MoU between Container Corporation of India and Container Company of Bangladesh Limited, which is expected to lead to greater cooperation in freight operations.
The two sides agreed to examine the request of Bangladesh to establish a new rail link between Panchagarh (Bangladesh) to Siliguri (India).
The two Prime Ministers also hailed the launch of the new bus service between Kolkata -Khulna- Dhaka noting that this would facilitate people-to-people contacts. They also welcomed the cargo trial runs between Dhaka and Delhi in October 2016.