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Thursday, May 28, 2015, Jaishtha 14, 1422 BS, Shaban 9, 1436 Hijr

Dhaka pins high hopes on Modi visit
Officials working overtime to finalise itinerary
Published : Thursday, 28 May, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 148
Saleem Samad
The officials of Bangladesh and India are working overtime to finalise the itinerary and other protocols of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in the first week of June.
On the day, Narendra Modi celebrates 365 days of his first year in office. He chose to announce his maiden visit to Bangladesh coinciding the day.
Senior officials in Bangladesh have interpreted the announcement of his visit as significant on Modi's first-year in office.
Ties between Bangladesh and India
are on an upswing ever since Sheikh Hasina's government came to power in January, 2009.
Modi has an aim to inject new momentum in the bilateral relationship by enhancing cooperation in connectivity, economic and other areas during his visit.
The Director General of South Asia desk of Bangladesh Foreign Ministry and his counterpart in South Block in New Delhi are rushing to piece together the itineraries. While the protocols are coordinated by Bangladesh High Commissioner in Delhi Syed Muazzem Ali and Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran.
Officials said besides talks with Hasina, Modi would join a function at premier Dhaka University, deliver a public lecture at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital and visit the National Memorial at Savar to pay tributes to martyrs of 1971 Liberation War.
Modi's Bangladesh visit would be laden with a strategic agenda and will have the potential to be the most substantive visit he has undertaken till now to any of the SAARC countries.
If all goes well, his visit to Bangladesh would put a primary structure of a parallel SAARC minus the troublesome neighbour Pakistan in place. It would set up the first bricks in the BBIN architecture as noted earlier.
Intra-regional SAARC connectivity will be a high point of Modi's visit to Bangladesh where the concept of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) is set to start off.
He will flag off the maiden Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus services of two countries.
Another major agenda during Modi's visit will be to start a direct bus service between Kolkata and Agartala via Dhaka. The move will be seen as Bangladesh allowing road transit to India, a long standing Indian demand, an official said.
Bus and rail corridors are among the primary focus of Modi's visit. The bus corridor may take off in right earnest as part of Modi's visit agenda and the rail corridor too would come up for discussion, though it would likely be left for second phase of the sub-regional push under the BBIN framework.
India and Bangladesh have agreed in principle to sign as many as five bilateral agreements during Modi's visit. The two neighbouring countries would ink agreements on power, shipping, road transport and couple of other memorandum of understanding (MOU) and agreements.
Last week, Bangladesh had hoped that the pact will be inked during Modi's trip. The Teesta deal was set to be inked during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee.
The Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusec.
During the visit, part of his policy to deepen engagement with India's immediate neighbourhood, Modi will hold wide-ranging talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on the whole gamut of ties and ways to move forward further.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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