Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday highlighted that the people of Bangladesh have been waiting to see the early signing and implementation of the framework of interim agreement for the sharing of Teesta waters as agreed upon by both governments in 2011.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed that his government is working with all stakeholders in India for the conclusion of the agreement at the soonest possible time, according to a 53-point joint statement that termed the relations between the two countries "a bond transcending strategic relationship".
Bangladesh and India signed seven bilateral documents MoU on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from the Feni River by India for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for the movement of goods to and from India.
The documents were signed, exchanged, adopted and handed over after a bilateral meeting between Hasina and Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. The two leaders witnessed the signing and exchange of the documents – six new and another renewal.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister Hasina is on an official visit to India. Apart from her official engagements in New Delhi, Prime Minister Hasina was also invited as the chief guest at the India Economic Summit organised by the World Economic Forum on October 3-4.
Both leaders directed the technical level committee of the joint rivers commission to expeditiously exchange updated data and information and prepare the draft framework of interim sharing agreements for the six rivers --Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar -- and to firm up the draft framework of interim sharing agreement of the Feni River.
They appreciated the decision taken at the Water Resources Secretary-level meeting in Dhaka for the early start of the work on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from the Feni River for the drinking purpose of the people of Sabroom town of Tripura.
Indian Prime Minister Modi appreciated the zero-tolerance policy of the government of Bangladesh against terrorism and commended Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her resolute efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region.
Recognising that terrorism remains one of the most significant threats to peace and stability of the two countries and the region, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
They stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror.
Both leaders referred to the successful discussions between the Home Ministers of the both countries during the recent visit of the Home Minister of Bangladesh to India in August 2019.
They agreed that a closer cooperation against extremist and radical groups, terrorists, smugglers, smuggling of fake currency, and organised crime remain a shared priority.
Both sides emphasised simplifying "people-people" movement between the two countries.
Both leaders underlined the importance of effective border management for ensuring a tranquil, stable and crime free border.
Towards this goal, the leaders directed their respective border forces to complete border fencing at all pending sectors on the International Border between both the countries at the earliest.
The two leaders also agreed that the loss of civilian lives along the border is a matter of concern and directed the border forces concerned to enhance coordinated measures to work toward bringing such border incidents down to zero.
The two Prime Ministers recalled the shared bonds of history, culture, language, secularism and other unique commonalities that characterize the partnership.
They paid solemn tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War, the Muktijoddhas, the Indian soldiers who fought in the War and the citizens of Bangladesh, for their great sacrifices in the Liberation War of 1971, and the commitment of Bangladesh leadership to the cherished values of democracy and equality.
The two Prime Ministers vowed to uphold these shared values in line with the dream of Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Prime Minister Modi also reaffirmed India's full support to the realization of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's vision of ensuring a prosperous, peaceful and developed Bangladesh.
A win-win business partnership
Welcoming Bangladesh's imminent graduation out of the LDC status, India extended Bangladesh its warm felicitations.
In this context, both sides agreed to expedite the commissioning of the Joint Study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Bangladesh.
In response to India's request to withdraw port restrictions on products being traded through Akhaura-Agartala port, the Bangladesh side informed that the restrictions will be removed on most items of regular trade in the near future.
Bangladesh side requested Indian authorities to consider addressing the issue of anti-dumping/anti-circumvention duties imposed on multiple products exported from Bangladesh to India, including jute products.
The Indian side mentioned that trade remedial investigations are carried out in accordance with the existing laws. Both leaders directed their officials to expedite the establishment of framework of cooperation in the area of Trade Remedial Measures for cooperation and capacity building in this area.
Appreciating the positive impact of the border haats on the lives and livelihoods of the people living along the remote border areas, the leaders directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve Border Haats which have been agreed to by both countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appreciated India's readiness to extend duty free and quota free access for Bangladeshi exports to the Indian market. They welcomed that for the first time, exports from Bangladesh to India crossed the one billion-dollar mark in 2019 witnessing a year-on-year 52 percent growth in the exports.
As a step towards promoting collaboration between the textiles and jute sectors of both the countries, the Prime Ministers urged early finalisation of the MoU between the Ministries of Textiles of India and Bangladesh.
Both sides recognised that the increasing connectivity through air, water, rail and road offers mutually beneficial opportunities for enhancing economic cooperation between Bangladesh and the North Eastern States of India and beyond.
The leaders welcomed the conclusion of Standard Operating Procedures for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, particularly to and from the North East of India, which could create a win-win situation for both economies.
The two Prime Ministers underlined the immense potential of movement of cargo using the inland water and coastal shipping trade.
Towards this, they welcomed the decision to operationalize the Dhulian-Gadagari-Rajshahi-Daulatdia-Aricha Route (to and from) and include Daudkandi-Sonamura Route (to and from) under Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade.
To facilitate better connectivity and simplify movement of passengers and goods between both the countries, both leaders agreed to early operationalisation of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement for movement of goods and passengers between the member countries who are willing and ready; or to work towards a bilateral India-Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Agreement, as appropriate.
As a further step towards enhancing road connectivity between both the countries, they welcomed plans for the commencement of Dhaka-Siliguri Bus service.
Harnessing Defence Cooperation
The two leaders recognized the need for increased cooperation in defence for a more integrated and secure neighborhood, taking into account the illustrious history of their cooperation from the joint operation of both forces during Bangladesh's Great Liberation War in December 1971.
Both Prime Ministers welcomed the initiatives for development of closer Maritime Security Partnership, and noted the progress made in finalization of an MoU on Establishment of Coastal Surveillance Radar System in Bangladesh and encouraged both sides for early signing of the MoU.
Both leaders also agreed to expedite work towards drawing upon a US$ 500 mn Defence Line of Credit extended by India to Bangladesh, for which implementation arrangements have been finalized in April 2019.
Both leaders emphasized the need for greater cooperation to commemorate the two important anniversary years: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Birth Centenary in 2020; and 50 years of Bangladesh's War of Liberation, and the establishment of India-Bangladesh bilateral diplomatic ties in year 2021.
To commemorate these two historic years, both Leaders also agreed to enhance cultural interactions between both the countries.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister thanked the Indian Prime Minister for a proposal to organise a Festival of India in Bangladesh at a mutually convenient period during 2019-2020.
Both Hasina and Modi also welcomed the renewal of the MoU on Cultural Exchange Programme during the visit.
They directed the officials concerned to expedite the work towards agreement between NFDC and BFDC for coproduction of a feature film on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in time for the celebrations of his birth centenary in 2020.