Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen will co-chair a meeting of the bilateral Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) in New Delhi on 30 May for a comprehensive review of relations between the two sides, people familiar wit the matter said on Thursday.
The meeting, being held after a gap of almost two years, is expected to take up the issue of sharing of river waters and connectivity initiatives between the two countries aimed at boosting commercial ties between Bangladesh and India's northeastern states, they added.
The JCC meeting will also help prepare the grounds for Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's planned visit to India, which is expected to take place early in July, the people said.
Ahead of the JCC meeting, Jaishankar and Momen will both participate in the "NADI" (Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence) conclave being organised in Guwahati during 28-29 May with the backing of the external affairs ministry. The conclave is also being attended by senior diplomats and envoys of several countries that are members of Bimstec and Asean.
"The JCC will be an opportunity to take stock of the overall relationship between the two countries and to carry out a comprehensive review of work being done in a wide range of sectors. It will also help plan for the next stage of the relationship," one of the people cited above said.
The last JCC meeting was held virtually in September 2020. Leaders of India and Bangladesh have described the current state of relations as a "golden chapter" and the relationship between the top leadership of both sides is very close.
Both countries have also launched several connectivity initiatives, especially the revival of rail links that were snapped by the 1965 India-Pakistan war and river routes that provide access to Bangladeshi ports for India's northeastern states.
The Bangladeshi side is expected to bring up its long-standing demand for finalising an interim agreement for sharing the waters of the Teesta river. The people said the two sides are further expected to take up the early conclusion of arrangements on sharing the waters of six other joint rivers – Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
The NADI conclave in Guwahati too will provide experts from India and Bangladesh to discuss the issue of cross-border rivers and make recommendations for the two governments.
Besides trade and connectivity, other issues that are expected to figure in the JCC meeting are security matters, development cooperation, and consular and cultural issues. The two sides are also expected to discuss ways to increase train services and flights to facilitate the large number of Bangladeshi travellers who come to India for both tourism and medical treatment.