Teesta issue will find an early solution: Modi

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NEW DELHI : Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday acknowledged the Teesta issue to have drawn “greatest attention” in regard to bilateral relations and expressed his “firm belief” that it would find an early solution.

“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,” Modi said in a statement after talks her visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina here.

He added: “Along with our shared land boundaries are our shared rivers. They sustain our peoples and their livelihoods. And, the one that has attracted the greatest attention is the Teesta.”

The Indian premier described Teesta to be an important factor for India, for Bangladesh and for India-Bangladesh relationship” while referring to the stake of India’s West Bengal state in the matter.

“I know that her (Banerjee’s) feelings for Bangladesh are as warm as my own . . . I assure you and the people of Bangladesh of our commitment and continuing efforts,” he said.

Modi said the two countries share one of the longest land boundaries and recalled his June 2015 Dhaka visit when “we had concluded the Land Boundary Agreement and its implementation is now underway”.

The Indian premier said the spread of radicaliztion and extremism posed a grave threat to the entire region and noted with high appreciated Dhaka’s stance in this regard saying “India has greatest admiration for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s firm resolve in dealing with terrorism”.

“Her (Sheikh Hasina) government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards terrorism is an inspiration for all of us,” he said.

Modi said during the talks both the premiers agreed that peace, security and development for the two peoples and for the region would remain central to their engagement.

“While our partnership brings prosperity to our people, it also works to protect them from forces of radicaliztion and extremism. Their spread poses a grave threat, not just to India and Bangladesh but to the entire region,” the Indian premier said.

Modi said India has always stood for the prosperity of Bangladesh and its people as “we are a long-standing and trusted development partner of Bangladesh”.

“We are determined that the fruits of our cooperation must benefit our people,” he said.

Modi said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and he held productive and comprehensive discussions on the full range of our partnership.

“We agreed that the agenda of our cooperation has to remain focused on purposeful action . . . we specifically looked at charting new avenues and tapping fresh opportunities in advancing our relationship,” he said.

Modi said India wants to build cooperation in new areas, especially some high-technology areas that have a deeper connect with the youth in both the societies while identified the areas to be electronics, information technology, cyber security, space exploration, civil nuclear energy.

“Today, he said, India has taken a long overdue step by signing an agreement on close cooperation between armed forces of the two countries,” he said.

The Indian premier added: “I am also happy to announce a Line of Credit of US dollars 500 million to support Bangladesh’s defence-related procurement.”

He said in implementing this line of credit, “we will be guided by Bangladesh’s needs and priorities”.

The Indian prime minister said he is happy to announce a new concessional Line of Credit of 4.5 billion dollars for the implementation of projects in priority sectors for Bangladesh.

“This brings our resource allocation for Bangladesh to more than 8 billion dollars over the past six years,” he said.

Modi described energy security to an important dimension of development partnership assured that India will continue to be a willing partner in meeting the energy needs of Bangladesh, and its goal of achieving ‘Power for all by 2021’

“Our energy partnership continues to grow and today, we added an additional 60 Megawatt of power to the 600 MW already flowing from India to Bangladesh,” he said.

Modi said the supply of another 500 MW has already been committed from the existing inter-connection.

“We have also agreed to finance the diesel oil pipeline from Numaligarh to Parbatipur”.

He said Indian companies are entering into a long-term agreement for the supply of high speed diesel to Bangladesh.

“We have also agreed on a timetable for regular supply till the pipeline is constructed. We are encouraging private sectors in both our countries to enter this space.

The Indian premier said several agreements for investments in the energy sector in Bangladesh are expected to be signed by the Indian companies in the coming days.

He described connectivity as crucial for the success of bilateral development partnership, sub-regional economic projects and for the larger regional economic prosperity.

“Today, together with the Honourable Chief Minister of West Bengal, we have added several new links to our growing connectivity. Bus and train links between Kolkata and Khulna, and Radhikapur-Birol have been restored today,” Modi said.

He said in-land water-ways routes are being optimized and steps are being taken to put into operation the Coastal Shipping Agreement.

“We are also happy to see the progress being made in two-way trans-shipment of goods . . . we look forward to early implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement,” Modi said.

“This would usher in a new era of sub-regional integration,” he said.

Modi said both the premiers recognized the need to diversify “our commercial engagement”.

“Not just to forge wide-ranging business partnerships between our two economies. But also for greater regional benefit. In this, a major part of the effort has to be from the business and industry of the two countries,” he said.

Modi said India was happy to receive the high powered business delegation accompanying the Bangladesh premier.

“Our agreement to open new Border Haats will empower border communities through trade and contribute to their livelihoods,” he said.

The Indian prime minister said his counterpart and he have noted the success of our capacity building and training initiatives.

“The training of 1500 Bangladesh civil servants in India has almost concluded. We would undertake training along similar lines for 1500 Judicial Officers of Bangladesh in our judicial academies,” he said.

Paying tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Modi said he was a dear friend of India and a towering leader.

“As a mark of our respect and deep admiration for the father of Bangladesh, a prominent road in our capital city has been named after him. We have also agreed to jointly produce a film on the life and works of Bangabandhu which will be released on his birth centenary year in 2020,” he said.

“Along with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, I am also honoured to release the Hindi translation of Bangbandhu’s ‘Unfinished Memoirs’,” he said.

The Indian prime minister said Bangabandhu’s life, struggle and contribution to the creation of Bangladesh will continue to inspire future generations.

“To mark the Golden Jubilee Year of Bangladesh’s independence in 2021, we have agreed to jointly produce a documentary film on the Liberation War of Bangladesh,” he said.

Modi told Sheikh Hasina that “You have successfully carried forward the vision and legacy of Bangabandhu Today, under your leadership, Bangladesh is marching on a trajectory of high growth and development. We in India rejoice in our ties with Bangladesh”.

The Indian premier said ties that have been forged in blood and generations of kin-ship and “ties that seek a better and secure future for our people”.

At the outset of his statement, Modi greeted the Bangladesh’s people on the occasion Bangla Nabobarsho 1424 and described Sheikh Hasina’s tour to have come “at an auspicious time, just before the advent of Pohela Boishakh”.

“Your visit marks another golden era in the friendship between our people and our nations. The extraordinary transformation in our relationship and achievements of our partnership are a clear recognition of your strong and decisive leadership,” Modi said.

The Indian premier also said the Bangladesh’s decision to honour Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Liberation War of 1971 deeply touched the people of India.

“Every Indian takes pride in the knowledge that Indian soldiers and valiant freedom fighters fought together to liberate Bangladesh from the reign of terror,” he said.

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