Millennium Post

SAARC Yatra: Jaishankar holds talks in Bangladesh

SAARC Yatra: Jaishankar holds talks in Bangladesh
“We had a very successful and constructive meeting...we want more cooperation,” he told reporters after talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Shahidul Haque and subsequent meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.

At a separate media briefing later, Haque said the “goodwill visit”, Jaishankar’s first since his appointment last month, yielded “deeper and wider aspects of bilateral, regional and sub-regional relations.”

Asked if the outstanding Teesta water-sharing issue featured in their talks, Haque said, “We reiterated our concerns and his response was positive.”  He, however, said issues related to Bangla-India relations were very wide which cannot be discussed in detail during brief visits.

“But we both agreed that a good relation exists between the two countries and it will have to be taken to a new height,” Haque said.

Replying to a question on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected Bangladesh visit, Haque said, “We expect him to visit Bangladesh soon...but I can’t predict any particular date.”

Bangladesh expects Modi’s visit to take place as soon as the long-pending Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) is ratified by the Indian parliament, enabling the two countries to swap the enclaves in each other’s territories and reach a consensus on the Teesta issue.

Officials had earlier said Bangladesh was expecting the LBA to be ratified in the current session of the Indian Parliament.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during her recent visit here, had said she would play a role in expediting the inking of the proposed Teesta Treaty.

Haque said he discussed with his counterpart the “problems” of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and ways to overcome them alongside the prospects of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).

“We discussed the issue of sub-regional issues categorising them as power and water and connectivity and transportation involving Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan,” he said.

According to officials, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan were engaged in a parallel exercise beyond the SAARC and the proposed SAARC transport agreement.

The SAARC nations failed to ink collectively any deal on transport agreement?in the last year’s summit in Kathmandu which visibly prompted India to push ahead with the sub-regional connectivity arrangements to ensure seamless transit of vehicles among the four countries.

India is also planning an electricity grid among the SAARC nations while it has already connected a power grid with Bangladesh as the two countries are discussing the scope for power trade and inter-grid connectivity, media reports said.

Jaishankar is also due to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later in the evening.

Jaishankar was received by Haque this morning at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport as he flew to Dhaka from Bhutan on the second day of his ‘SAARC Yatra’?which will take him to Pakistan tomorrow and then to Afghanistan subsequently on the first leg of the eight-country tour.

Prime Minister Modi had called the heads of governments of the SAARC nations just before the beginning of the ICC Cricket World Cup and announced that he would soon send his new foreign secretary on a ’SAARC Yatra’.

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