Water sharing, connectivity, easier visa regime, border issues discussed with Indian FS

India has expressed interest to finance Bangladesh's Teesta project, Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said on Thursday.

"You know, we have taken a big project on Teesta. India wants to finance this project. It will have to be implemented in line with our needs. We want to see our needs fulfilled," Hasan told reporters after his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He made the remarks when asked whether they discussed the Teesta issue. "We have discussed the Teesta issue," the Foreign Minister said.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the issues of mutual interests underscoring the shared commitment to deepening cooperation across various sectors.

Foreign Minister Hasan raised the water sharing issue of the common rivers including that of Teesta and renewal of Ganges water sharing treaty.

He also stressed economic cooperation for the betterment of people of two countries. He also stressed easing the visa issuance process for further strengthening the people to people contact.

Regarding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi, Hasan said the PM will definitely visit India.

"Elections are underway in India. New government will be formed after the election and then the date will be finalised for the visit," he said.

Asked whether the PM will go to India or China first, the Foreign Minister smiled and said Delhi is close to Bangladesh in terms of geographical distance.

Diplomatic sources indicate that PM Hasina's visit to India is planned for early July if not possible at the end of June, after the conclusion of the neighbouring country's election.

Pre-election surveys suggest a strong showing for the coalition led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is widely anticipated to secure re-election.

In January, Modi extended warm congratulations to PM Hasina on her electoral victory, expressing hopes for the continued strengthening of the historically close ties between India and Bangladesh.

The last bilateral engagement between the two prime ministers occurred during the G-20 Leaders Summit in September 2023, where Bangladesh was a guest country.

Modi is expected to extend invitations to South Asian and BIMSTEC country leaders for his swearing-in ceremony, fostering regional cooperation.

Regarding border killings, the Foreign Minister said there is no deficit of willingness at the government and political level to end border killings.

"We have discussed the issue in detail. We have laid emphasis on the use of non-lethal weapons," Hasan said.

He said border forces have been instructed and they are using non-lethal weapons following the instructions.

However, the foreign minister said it turns into lethal weapons when used from close proximity.

"They have no lack of sincerity. We have to work more on this issue," he said.

Hasan said they also discussed both physical and people to people connectivity.

He said they have discussed cooperation from India to import hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan through India.

They also discussed ways to further ease the visa regime so that people can move freely strengthening people to people relations.

India has the highest visa issuing center in Bangladesh and they are very sincere to ensure that people get visas quickly, Hasan said.

He said Bangladesh-India relations are multifaceted and the relations reached to a new height under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. "We have excellent relations with India."

Earlier, the Indian Foreign Secretary had a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at his office on Thursday morning.

Meeting with Bangladesh FS

He also held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and they had "constructive discussions."

The discussion focused on bilateral issues, regional cooperation, and avenues for future collaboration. They expressed optimism about the prospects for furthering bilateral cooperation to address shared challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They also discussed cooperation in the areas of green energy, digital economy, technology space etc.

Among other issues, Foreign Secretary Masud particularly emphasized power sector cooperation, connectivity, enhancing Bangladesh's export to India, cooperation in regional and international platforms and support for Rohingya repatriation.

Vinay Kwatra, who arrived on Wednesday evening, left Dhaka on Thursday afternoon by a special flight.

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