File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina | PTI
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina | PTI
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New Delhi: India and Bangladesh Tuesday decided that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina will hold a virtual summit meeting in December as Dhaka urged New Delhi to facilitate seamless trade and investment between both the countries, especially essential items such as onions. 

All these were discussed during the sixth Joint Consultative Commission meeting, held virtually, between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen.

“Co-chaired the 6th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission with FM Dr A.K. Abdul Momen… Comprehensive and productive meeting reviewing the full range of our cooperation… We will now prepare for the Virtual Summit between our Prime Ministers in December 2020,” Jaishankar tweeted. 

Meanwhile, Momen in his statement to the media, said Bangladesh has asked India “to look into the export of essential commodities such as onions by India, since this impacts the domestic market of Bangladesh”.

Bangladesh was miffed by the sudden announcement made by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry earlier this month to ban the export of all kinds of onions and urged New Delhi to resume the shipments in order to tame the soaring prices of the commodity in their market. 

Momen also said Dhaka has urged India to remove all non-tariff barriers that continue to impede bilateral trading of goods and movement of people.

India and Bangladesh also discussed the proposed joint feasibility study for having a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Merchandise exports from Bangladesh to India have crossed $1 billion this year, said the statement.

“Bangladesh also stressed on equitable application investment policies by India,” Momen added.

Dhaka has been also urging India to review the revision in its FDI policy that happened in April. India had amended its FDI rules to stave off hostile takeovers of Indian companies by China amid the pandemic.

“The Indian side welcomed investments from Bangladesh. In the event of investment proposals facing delays in getting approvals, the Indian side assured expeditious facilitation of such proposals. Bangladesh side invited investments from top investors of India,” according to a joint statement issued by both sides.

Also read: Covid vaccine, rail link — India looks to reset Delhi-Dhaka ties amid growing China presence

On sharing of river waters

India and Bangladesh “reiterated their commitment to finalisation of the Interim Agreement for sharing of the waters of the Teesta.”

Both sides also discussed the “need for early conclusion” of Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six other joint rivers — Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

Sharing of the Teesta river water has been a longstanding contentious issue between India and Bangladesh. The river originates from Sikkim and passes through West Bengal before finally merging with Brahmaputra in Assam and Jamuna in Bangladesh.

Dhaka wants 50 per cent share of the river’s water for the December-March period. During his visit to Dhaka in 2015, PM Modi had promised Hasina that the matter will be resolved soon. There has, however, been little progress so far.

China had announced in August that it will lend $1 billion to Bangladesh for the Teesta river project. 

India and Bangladesh also agreed to expedite implementation of projects, including the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, among others.

Home secretary-level talks soon, Rohingyas’ return discussed

Both sides also decided to hold talks at the level of the home secretaries to discuss measures to contain terrorism.

“Recognising that terrorism remains a significant threat to global peace and security, both sides reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The two sides noted that Home Secretary level talks are scheduled to be held shortly,” the joint statement said.

The issue of Rohingya refugees and their safe return to Myanmar was also discussed.

“The two ministers reiterated the importance of the safe, speedy and sustainable return to Myanmar of the forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar, currently being sheltered by Bangladesh. In this regard, Bangladesh Foreign Minister emphasised that unless the problem is resolved quickly, there are possibilities of pockets of radicalism disrupting economic growth, peace and stability in the region and requested India’s leverage to address the crisis,” the joint statement added.

Also read: India looking at air bubble deal with Bangladesh to get around land travel restrictions


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