Hasina's India visit deferred by a month


"The visit has been rescheduled. The fresh date is yet to be fixed but the tour is expected to take place on January 10 or 11," Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told a reporters. She said a sudden engagement of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Copenhagen meet, also to be joined by Sheikh Hasina, required the deferral.

The Foreign Minister said Singh decided to attend the climate meet at the last minute while a scheduled meeting of the summit leaders on December 18 would make it difficult for the Bangladesh and Indian premiers to meet in New Delhi on the scheduled date.

Replying to a question, she said the visit, to be the first by Sheikh Hasina since her Awami League government assumed office after the landmark December 29, 2008 general elections, was deferred on a request from New Delhi in view of the situation. She, however, said the deferral would allow Bangladesh to be better prepared for the talks as Dhaka-New Delhi relation was a "comprehensive one" having a wide range of issues, while the visit was a unique opportunity to enhance the ties for mutual benefit.

"This is a moment of opportunity," Moni said to describe the significance of the visit. The minister listed water sharing in common rivers, bilateral connectivity and regional connectivity through India, trade, power and energy, security as key issues to be discussed during the tour. Asked if Dhaka and New Delhi could reach an agreement particularly on the Teesta river during the visit, she said talks were underway on the Teesta and other common rivers and a Joint River Commission meeting was expected to he held soon.

"But we will have to exhaust some process ahead of signing a deal on the Teesta," she said. Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes and senior foreign ministry officials were present at the briefing. The Foreign Minister earlier said the two countries planned to sign several landmark treaties during Hasina's forthcoming India visit and her own tour to New Delhi in September this year prepared the grounds for inking the deals.

During Moni's visit, India agreed to facilitate Bangladesh's transit to Nepal and Bhutan, provide at least 100 MW power on priority basis, increase trade and communication facilities and resolve other outstanding issues. The two sides also agreed to settle three major border related issues on enclaves, lands in adverse possession and un-demarcated border lines under a package.

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