Delhi, Dhaka sign river pact, first in 25 years; Hasina praises Modi


Visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Tuesday that “as long as Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is here, Bangladesh and India will resolve” problems between them.

She said this in the context of sharing river waters as the two countries signed an interim water sharing agreement for the Kushiyara river, the first such pact between them in over 25 years — the Ganga water treaty was signed in 1996.

The two sides also decided to start negotiations on a comprehensive trade pact and strengthen cooperation against terrorism and radicalism.

Speaking after her bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi, Hasina said: “Both countries have achieved remarkable progress in a number of areas. I recall that the two countries have resolved many outstanding issues in the spirit of friendship and cooperation, and hope that all outstanding issues including the Teesta water-sharing treaty will be concluded at an early date.”

“Today, I thank Mr Modi that we resolved the issue of Kushiyara (river)… so I know as long as Prime Minister Modi is here, Bangladesh and India will resolve all these problems,” she said, Modi by her side.

She met President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

PM Narendra Modi with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday. (EXpress photo by Praveen Khanna)

Earlier in the day, Hasina said that friendship can solve any problem.

Modi said the Kushiyara pact will benefit people in southern Assam and Sylhet in Bangladesh. He also said that the two countries will share the data on floods.

The two sides, Modi said, will start discussions on a trade agreement, underlining that the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent geopolitical challenges make it essential to strengthen bilateral economic ties.

“With the expansion of connectivity between our two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other. Our bilateral trade is growing rapidly. Today, India is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh’s exports. To further accelerate this growth, we will soon start discussions on the Bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

Besides the agreement on the Kushiyara water-sharing, the two sides signed pacts on railways, space, IT and media.

The spirit of the 1971 war was also invoked by the two leaders in their statements.

Modi said, “Today, we also stressed on cooperation against terrorism and radicalism. To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very important that we together fight such forces, which want to attack our mutual trust.”

Hasina said, “We are grateful for the invaluable support extended by the Government and the people of India in the great War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 which was a watershed moment in our bilateral relations. Since then, Bangladesh-India ties are anchored in shared history and culture, mutual trust and respect, long standing friendship and continued cooperation. I appreciate Modiji’s visionary leadership that continues to provide added momentum to our bilateral relations.”

She said, “I reiterate that India is the most important and closest neighbour for Bangladesh. Bangladesh-India bilateral relations are known to be Role Model for Neighborhood diplomacy.”

Hasina also announced the Mujib Scholarship on Tuesday for the direct descendants of the Indian soldiers killed or grievously injured in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The awards will be conferred on Wednesday, she said.

The award is named after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Hasina’s father.

“Tomorrow, I will confer the Mujib Scholarship to the direct descendants of the soldiers or officers of the defence forces of India who were martyred or gravely wounded during the Bangladesh Liberation War,” Hasina said.

As many as 1,984 Indian Army personnel were killed in the war, according to the Bangladeshi government.

Earlier, Modi welcomed Hasina at the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt in New Delhi, where she was accorded a tri-services guard of honour.

Interacting with reporters at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Hasina said her talks with Modi would focus on improving the condition of the people in their respective countries, poverty alleviation and economic development.

“Our main aim is to develop the economy and fulfil the basic needs of our people. With friendship you can solve any problem. So we always do that,” she said.

Hasina also offered floral tributes at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in Rajghat. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called on her and later said, “India and Bangladesh are natural allies and it’s crucial that both our countries work towards strengthening this bond.”





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