PTI: April 10, 2018
Dhaka: India and Bangladesh today inked six MoUs, including one for the construction of a 129.5-km long oil pipeline between Siliguri and Parbatipur, and discussed the Teesta water sharing issue as well as the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and his Bangladeshi counterpart Md Shahidul Haque reviewed the areas of bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, the Indian High Commission here said in a statement.
"Both sides expressed appreciation for the notable progress achieved in the implementation of the decisions and initiatives taken during the visits of the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in June 2015 and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in April 2017," it read.
The two sides signed six MoUs including India-Bangladesh Friendship pipeline between Siliguri & Parbatipur and an agreement between Department of Atomic Energy, India and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.
"This is part of our endeavour to undertake projects in Bangladesh in various socio-economic sectors, including education, culture, health, community welfare, road infrastructure etc, for which we are providing 1,600 crore taka under grant financing," Foreign Secretary Gokhale said.
The MoU on oil pipeline is aimed at pumping diesel from India to Bangladesh with a capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum.
"The MoU focuses on deepening bilateral cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector and the mutual benefits for both sides that would accrue from the proposed construction of approximate 129.5-km long oil pipeline from the Siliguri Marketing Terminal of the Numaligarah Refinery Ltd (NRL) in India to the Parbaripur depot of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC)," the brief description of the MoU read.
The other MoUs are on cooperation between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Betar, installation of an Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Urdu Chair in Dhaka University, Addendum to the GCNEP-BAEC Interagency Agreement, grant projects to set up language labs in 500 schools in Bangladesh and upgrade different roads in Rangpur city.
An addendum was signed relating to Inter-Agency agreement between Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) of India's atomic energy department and Bangladesh's atomic energy commission.
Gokhale said Delhi remained a "committed development partner" of Dhaka and has extended lines of credit of over USD 8 billion to Bangladesh in the last seven years.
"This is the largest amount of credit India has ever committed to any single country....We are confident that this credit will be useful to Bangladesh as it pursues its developmental priorities," he said.
Gokhale also cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that Bangladesh and India are not just "pass pass" (close to each other) but also "saath saath" (together).
India also extended full support to Bangladesh's efforts for resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis, including the early repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar.
"India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people," Gokhale said in a statement after his meeting with Haque on the second day of his three-day visit.
Later, Gokhale called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Sangsad Bhaban office and discussed several issues of bilateral interest.
He informed Premier Hasina that Prime Minister Modi wants to fulfill all the commitments he made to Bangladesh, her press secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted Gokhale as saying.
Hasina mentioned that Bangladesh and India have resolved many problems successfully through discussions.
"Now one problem needs to be resolved," Hasina said, adding that she is hopeful of settling the Teesta issue, too.
According to Karim, the foreign secretary said India is well aware of Bangladesh's problems due to the arrival of Rohingya refugees.
"We're well aware of Bangladesh's problem arising out of influx of more than one million Rohingyas...Our prime minister and the entire Indian government shall do best for Bangladesh in this regard," the top Indian diplomat said.
A massive Rohingya influx began since August 25 when Myanmar Army launched a crackdown in the northwestern Rakhine State, the homeland of the ethnic minority community.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to escape the crackdown.
Karim said the premier sought intensified Indian pressure on Myanmar.
"We want India to put more pressure on Myanmar to take back its citizens from Bangladesh," she told Gokhale.
Hasina said her government is preparing an island to relocate about one lakh Rohingya refugees as there is a possibility of landslide in Cox's Bazar during monsoon.
She also mentioned that Bangladesh is in touch with five neighbouring countries, including India, China and Thailand, over settling the issue.
The foreign secretary arrived in Dhaka yesterday, his first visit after assuming the office on January 29.
Before the bilateral meeting with his counterpart, Gokhale called on Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali.
Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.