Dhaka: India and Bangladesh on Thursday made forward movement on key issues like visa simplification for certain categories as well as cooperation on supply of electricity from a Tripura-based power plant.
These issues figured during external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s meetings with her Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina here. Swaraj, who arrived here late on Wednesday night, also discussed Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), proposed Teesta river water sharing deal and the issue of illegal immigration.
She was assisted by foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and senior ministry officials during her talks with Ali at the foreign office in Dhaka. Swaraj is here on a two-day official visit, her first stand alone trip abroad since assuming office last month.
The Indian side assured Bangladesh of its positive intention towards Dhaka’s concerns on LBA and Teesta river issues, sources said.
Regarding the visa simplification, it was not immediately clear who would be covered under the relaxation regime. The two sides also discussed the gas-based power project at Palatana in Tripura and the supply of electricity to Bangladesh from the plant.
Though there are no pacts to be signed and no big expectations, the trip, which is termed as a “goodwill" visit, is aimed at taking forward the bilateral ties which are on a “positive trajectory" for past few years. Among other issues the meetings also discussed ways to enhance cooperation in important areas including economic and trade.
Significantly, it was Bharatiya Janata Party’s opposition, coupled with that of Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad which prevented the previous Congress-led UPA government from formalising the LBA and signing the Teesta water sharing deal with Bangladesh.
The LBA, which is yet to be approved by Parliament, is aimed at redrawing the international boundary between India and Bangladesh by exchanging areas of adverse possession and enclaves along with population on either side, thus making the highly incongruous and porous Indo-Bangla border more manageable. PTI