Muhith to visit Delhi ahead of Hasina’s tour

UNB . Dhaka | Update:

MuhithFinance minister AMA Muhith is likely to visit New Delhi on 2-4 April, a tour that is seen as 'significant' ahead of prime minister Sheikh Hasina's tour.

It is usual to have ministerial-level visit from both sides ahead of such magnitude of premier-level visit but this ministerial-level visit carries a special significance, a diplomat told UNB without elaborating his engagements in New Delhi.

Availing of the new line of credit from India, among other issues, might come up for discussion during his conversation with Indian sides, said the diplomat mentioning that the finance minister might even have other regular engagements.

Though there have been much of 'speculations' that there could be a defence agreement signed during the prime minister's visit, officials declined to comment on such assumptions.

"So, are you asking me to comment on a speculation? At this stage please permit me not to go into details. What I can assure you that closer to the visit we'll arrange a separate briefing on the visit," said official spokesperson of the Indian external affairs ministry Gopal Baglay when asked by Indian journalists about such deal between Bangladesh and India.

The spokesperson, however, said it is going to be a really 'landmark' visit and both sides are very intensely and actively working to really make this visit with a 'very significant outcome'.

On Teesta issue, Gopal Baglay said when they will do the separate briefing on the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina closer to the visit, they will then cover this aspect in that briefing. "We'll cover all the priority areas in our bilateral relations."

Asked about defence cooperation deal between the two countries Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla on 13 March said, "Well, you tell me. You're telling me. I don't know."

He said the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India will certainly have 'outcomes'.

"We'll certainly have outcome. We can't have a visit of such magnitude not having outcomes. We are looking at deliverables," he said.

Earlier, a section of media reported that India is pursuing Bangladesh for signing agreements in the fields of defence cooperation and military purchase under a line-of-suppliers-credit of $500 million from India.

The prime minister, during her visit to New Delhi, will stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the president of India, as a guest of Pranab Mukherjee.

Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar recently visited Dhaka and discussed various aspects of the upcoming visit.

During her visit, the prime minister will hold official talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 8 April, according to the foreign ministry.

This visit comes seven years after Sheikh Hasina's previous visit to India in January 2010 and almost two years after Modi's visit to Bangladesh in June 2015.

The upcoming visit is expected to expand the cordial and cooperative relationship further between the two neighbouring countries and build strong ties of friendship and trust between the two leaders, said the foreign ministry.

Though progress on a water sharing deal on Teesta river 'looks uncertain', innovative approaches towards developing transport and power facilities and managing ecologically fragile Sundarbans can help India navigate around West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's concerns and make Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina's upcoming visit a success, The Times of India reported on Sunday.

Bangladesh-India relations reached a 'new height' since the two countries completed procedures for the ratification of a 1974 border pact during a visit by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka in 2015.

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