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SOURCE: ANI

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is on a four-day visit to India, kicked off her diplomatic meets in New Delhi today by holding talks with the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Prime Minister Hasina was welcomed by Darshana Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles and Railways in New Delhi upon her arrival here on Monday. Shiekh Hasina’s visit is seen as a crucial one which will further strengthen the multifaceted relationship between India and Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister also got clicked with the dancers who welcomed her. Issues which are on top of the agenda are upgrading defense cooperation, expanding regional connectivity initiatives and establishing stability in South Asia.

During her visit, the she will meet President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar. She will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This visit is her first visit after both nations’ bilateral relations touched their 50th year in 2021. Last year also marked the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and the 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation.

PM Modi visited Bangladesh in 2021. Maitri Diwas celebrations were held in 20 capitals around the world including Delhi and Dhaka. Prime Ministers of both countries have met 12 times since 2015.

India and Bangladesh have sought to create a model for regional cooperation besides reviving several connectivity initiatives over the last few years. The Akhaura-Agartala rail link will reopen soon, and it is anticipated that Agartala and Chittagong will be connected by air in a few weeks.

The two sides are expected to ink an agreement on interim sharing of water of the Kushiyara River during Prime Minister Hasina’s visit. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister¬†is also likely to travel to Ajmer in Rajasthan to visit the Dargah of revered Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti.

Last month, India and Bangladesh finalised the text of the agreement on interim sharing of river waters.

The text of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was finalised at the 38th ministerial-level meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) held in Delhi on August 25. The commission was constituted in 1972 as a bilateral mechanism to address issues of mutual interest on common rivers.

Bangladesh is an important partner under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy. The cooperation extends to all fields including security, trade & commerce, power & energy, transport & connectivity, science & technology, defense, rivers, and maritime affairs among others.

Bangladesh is now India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade has grown from USD 9 billion to USD 18 billion in the last five years. Bangladesh has become the fourth largest export destination for India with a growth of over 66 per cent from USD 9.69 billion in FY 2020-21 to USD 16.15 billion in FY 2021-22.

Despite the COVID pandemic, both countries were able to achieve progress on important connectivity initiatives.

Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner with nearly one-fourth of the Government of India (GoI) commitment under the GoI Line of Credit (LoC) has been made to Bangladesh. Total contracts have crossed the milestone figure of USD 2 billion and total disbursements have crossed USD 1 billion.

Bilateral development assistance projects cover a wide variety of sectors such as railways, roads and transport, power generation and transmission, inland waterways, ports and shipping, economic zones, information and communication technology, petrochemicals, renewable energy, waste management and aviation with a bulk of the projects aimed at improving connectivity.

India has been a hub of medical treatment for Bangladesh nationals. Of the 2.8 lakh visas issued in 2021, 2.3 lakh were medical visas. Bangladesh is currently India’s biggest visa operation globally. In 2019, 13.63 lakh visas were issued.