Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his long awaited visit to Bangladesh on June 6-7, Indian External Affairs Ministry confirmed yesterday, culminating a much coveted move to better existing friendly ties between the two neighbours.
The visit reflects the importance attached by India to the bilateral relationship and is expected to further expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between the two countries and strengthen the excellent ties of friendship and trust between India and Bangladesh, Indian High Commission said in a press release.
This ends a year of wait to welcome the new Indian leader who has focussed on building better relations with the neighbours since his assumption of office in May last year.
The two countries recently concluded a Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) that needed over 40 years to be ratified by Indian parliament, though Bangladesh parliament ratified it soon after LBA was signed between then Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi, respectively.
The finalisation of LBA removed one major irritant in relations between the two countries and the other main irritant, agreement to share water of the Teesta river, will hopefully be done away with during Modi's visit, officials and diplomats in both countries have said.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said India and Bangladesh would "give their approval to it (Teesta agreement) very soon. We are hopeful that we will get full cooperation from the West Bengal government," Singh told local journalists in Kolkata.
The Teesta flows into Bangladesh through West Bengal, Its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier obstructed the deal when former Indian premier Manmohan Singh came to Dahka in 2011 with an intention to sign it.
Prime Minister Modi's visit is expected to shed light also on some other key issues involving connectivity between the two countries.
Modi is coming to Bangladesh at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Ministry officials said. Besides having talks with the Prime Minister, Modi will also call on President Abdul Hamid, they said.
Last year, Modi and Hasina met twice on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and SAARC Summit at Kathmandu.
During the visit, the two leaders will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations and seek to improve them in mutual interest of both countries, the officials said.
Bangladesh may get $2 billion in fresh loan from India for use in connectivity-related projects, an area of cooperation in which the two countries have taken big strides in recent years.
Officials of both the foreign and finance ministries said a formal announcement about the new soft loan under the Line of Credit (LoC) is likely to be made during the visit.
Sujata Mehta, Secretary of Multilateral and Economic Relations of the Indian External Affairs Ministry, during her Dhaka visit in April, indicated that the LoC would be extended.
Initially, it was assumed the new credit amount would be $1 billion, the same India lent in 2010, but recent developments suggest that it will be around $2 billion.
Bangladesh has already identified 15 projects in consultation with the Indian government in which the funds can be used.
The projects, whose total cost is estimated to be $3.71 billion, will boost up connectivity between the two countries.