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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­group.com

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

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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.

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