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Saturday, September 20, 2014, Aswin 5, 1421, Zilqad 24, 1435 Hijr

Mahmood meets Pranab, Modi in Delhi
Bangladesh-India JCC meet today
Publish Date : 2014-09-20,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 54
Diplomatic Correspondent
The high profile Bangladesh delegation led by Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali passed a hectic day in the Indian capital New Delhi on Friday trying to push unresolved issues at their meetings with Indian leaders.
The official delegation is upbeat about pro-active responses from the Indian leaders regarding outstanding contentious issues, sources in the delegation confided to The Daily Observer.
Foreign Minister has met the Indian President Pranab Mukerjee at noon and in the evening called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the morning, Mahmood  Ali called on Indian Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati.
During the hour-long meeting with the Indian President at Rastrapati Bhavan, bilateral issues were discussed and issues of mutual interest, sources in Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi said.
Pranab Mukerjee soon after taking oath of office as President, on a "nostalgic trip" in March 2013 he made his maiden visit to the ancestral home of his in-laws in Bangladesh.
Pranab assured Mahmood Ali that Indian will always stand besides Bangladesh and said Bangladesh had always been a good neighbour.
In the evening Mahmood Ali formally handed over the invitation by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Bangladesh.
Modi accepted the letter of invitation and thanked Hasina for offering her hospitality.
In fact Hasina and Modi are scheduled to meet on September 27 afternoon on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting in New York.
Modi also told the Bangladesh delegation that he had in his mind to visit Bangladesh. He remembered the visit of parliament speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury attending the oath talking ceremony of him. The Foreign Minister thanked Indian premier for the "stand-alone" visit in June of his counterpart Sushma Swaraj and also another junior Indian minister.
The Indian premier hinted that it would be possible to visit Bangladesh in January 2015, but did not mention any schedule. The two sides will work on the itinerary to finalise the schedule.
It is expected that a tentative schedule would be formally announced during Hasina-Modi meet in New York.
Earlier it was heard that Modi is likely to visit Bangladesh on the Victory Day on December 16. But Modi does not wish to visit Bangladesh empty handed, foreign office sources said.
Mahmood Ali told Indian reporters that he feels positive after meeting the top Indian leaders regarding the long expected agreement on Teesta water sharing, much awaited Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974, security and other issues.
After the change of government in India last May, Bangladesh is optimistic about taking the bilateral relationship to a new height. For the Bangladesh delegation the ice has finally began to melt in their favour, foreign office officials said yesterday.
The crucial Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) parley will begin at 11am at Nehru Bhavan today (Saturday).
The JCC meet will be led by Foreign Ministers of the two neighbouring countries, first such meeting after the government change in Delhi.
The first JCC meeting was held in New Delhi in May 2012 and the second in Dhaka in February 2013.
Mahmood Ali has reached Delhi on Thursday on a 3-day official visit to Delhi on an invitation by his counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
The Bangladesh delegation led by Mahmood Ali will also be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Principal Secretary Abdus Sobhan and five other secretaries of commerce, shipping, economic relations division, power and water resources.
Foreign office sources said that Bangladesh delegation would seek "specific timeframe" from India to resolve the delayed Teesta water sharing treaty and LBA to swap 106 Indian enclaves and 92 Bangladeshi enclaves.
The JCC meet will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, including security, trade, connectivity, power, water resources, border management, infrastructure, people to people contacts, culture, environment, and education.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be also signed for student exchange with the Nalanda University in Bihar, he said.
The Foreign Minister and his entourage will leave Delhi for New York on September 21 to attend UN General Assembly with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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