NEW DELHI, Apr. 9: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday promised an early solution to the vexed Teesta water dispute with Bangladesh.
"I firmly believe that it is only my government and excellency Sheikh Hasina, your government that can and will find an early solution to Teesta water sharing," he told the visiting Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who is India's staunch ally against terrorism.
Given that Hasina would go in for polls in 2018, Modi's statement has been interpreted to mean that a Teesta pact may be a reality within months.
Mamata Banerjee, prime opposition to the pact, was present during the summit and had a quiet dinner with Hasina and President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday raising hopes that a breakthrough may be possible.
A joint statement said the two countries would start negotiations on sharing waters of the Feni, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers.
India has positioned itself as Bangladesh's premier development partner, investing in the country's development and prosperity.
The two nations signed 22 agreements and India extended a $4.5-billion line of credit to Bangladesh.
They also reaffirmed an old alliance — one that had helped liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan. As Hasina honoured seven Indian soldiers who lay down their lives during the 1971 war, the significance of the gesture was not lost on anyone.
Modi said, "Every Indian takes pride... that Indian soldiers and "vir muktijodha' fought together to liberate Bangladesh from the reign of terror."
$4.5 billion line of credit for Bangladesh
India on Saturday openly celebrated its role in Bangladesh's war of liberation, as well as a much closer relationship with Bangladesh, described as "exceptional... fraternal relationship" by foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
The two countries signed five defence cooperation agreements, including a $500 million line of credit for defence purchases from India.
"The chemistry between the two leaders was very visible," said foreign secretary, S Jaishankar, briefing journalists.
The defence framework agreement is an enabling pact for all others. India and Bangladesh also signed a civil nuclear agreement.
India will play a supporting role in training and supplying components when Bangladesh buys its first nuclear reactor from Russia.
Connectivity was one of the main themes of the summit. As Modi noted, "We have added several new links to our growing connectivity."
India also announced a $4.5 billion line of credit, for which both countries have already identified 17 new projects, including development of three ports (Payra, Mongla and Chittagong), railway and roads.
The other key MoUs inked were on passenger and cruise services on the coastal and protocol route, cooperation on cyber security and cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
"We want to build cooperation in new areas, especially some high-technology areas, that have a deeper connect with the youth in both our societies," said Modi.
India and Bangladesh came out strongly against terrorism. A joint statement issued this evening reiterated the "strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror. ... the fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks, but should also identify, hold accountable and take strong measures against states and entities which encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups, and falsely extol their virtues".
"We in India rejoice in our ties with Bangladesh. Ties that have been forged in blood and generations of kinship. Ties that seek a better and secure future for our people," Modi said at the joint media event with Hasina.
The two countries also agreed to confront challenges of terrorism with deeper security and defence cooperation with Modi terming spread of radicalism as a "grave threat", not only to the two countries but to the entire region. India has also liberalised visas for Bangladeshis.
Bangladesh citizens will now be able to visit India for medical diagnosis in addition to hospitalisation.
Energy security, Modi said, was an important dimension of the two-way development partnership.
"Today, we added an additional 60 Mega Watt of power to the 600 Mega Watt of power already flowing from India to Bangladesh.
The supply of another 500 Mega Watt has already been committed from the existing inter-connection. We have also agreed to finance the diesel oil pipeline from Numaligarh to Parbatipur.
Our companies are entering into a long-term agreement for the supply of high speed diesel to Bangladesh. We have also agreed on a time table for regular supply till the pipeline is constructed," he said.(TOI)
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