After Much Delay, Hasina’s Visit Likely in April
20 pacts, including defence and connectivity, are on the table for Hasina’s first official visit since 2010
New Delhi: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, one of Delhi’s closest allies, is finally expected to visit India in April after two aborted attempts in December and this month. The new schedule was finalised at Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s wide-ranging dialogue with Hasina and other ministers and officials during his two-day trip to Dhaka.
As many as 20 pacts including defence and connectivity agreements are on the cards for Hasina’s first officialvisittoDelhisince2010.Weather conditions in December, scheduling issues of both Modi and Hasina, besides state elections and Union budget presentation, thwarted the visit by Bangla PM earlier.
Briefing reporters after the 30-minute meeting between Hasina and Jaishankar in Dhaka on Thursday, Bangla PM’s Deputy Press Secretary Nazrul Islam said Hasina’s visit would take place in the first half of April. An Indian government official, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have got a couple of dates in April from the Bangladesh side … the window is in the first week and third week of April. Indian Prime Minister’s Office will have a view on this.” India is hosting Malaysian PM on April 9-13.
Later, foreign secretaries of India and Bangladesh also met to discuss a wide range of issues, including Hasina’s visit, and reviewed the implementation of the 60-point joint statement issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in 2015.
ThistimeHasinawillbetheguestof President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, an official said, adding, “This is a unique occasion for her since she will be the first prime ministerfromBangladeshtobegiven this honour.” It is no secret that Mukherjee has over the years played a key role in developing Indo-Bangla
ties and shared close ties with the Mujib family. Hasina is the daughter of the late Bangla leader.
Though Hasina visited India thrice in recent years -- to receive a degree, attend the funeral of Pranab Mukharjee’s wife, and attend BIMSTEC retreat and BRICSBIMSTEC Outreach meeting in Goa -- it will be her first official visit in her currenttenureasprimeminister.Her last official visit to India happened in January 2010.
“Through the visit, bilateral ties betweenIndiaandBangladeshwouldbe strengthened further,” Jaishankar is understood to have told the Bangla PM. The visit would focus on mutual interests and development initiatives alongside connectivity based on Dhaka’s demands and requirements, Jaishankarisunderstoodtohaveconveyed to Hasina.
Referring to mutual solution to various problems between the two next-door neighbours, including Land Boundary and enclave problems, Hasina is learnt to have told Jaishankar, “We can solve any problem through discussions if we have good intention.” The Bangla PM also underscored the need for increasing connectivity.