HISTORIC LBA TO END 68-YEAR DISPUTE
Sun Online Desk
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a joint press conference held after a meeting between them at the Prime Minister’s office in the city on Saturday.
Bangladesh and India on Saturday inked some 19-deals, including the historic Land Boundary Agreement to end the 41-year drought to the residents of the enclaves while dashing the spirit of the countrymen by keeping the Teesta Water Sharing Treaty at bay.
Terming the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit a historic one, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said both the premiers pledge to transform the relationship to a greater height while Modi expressed his confidence about reaching a fair solution on Teesta and Feni rivers.
Mentioning the exchanged letters of ratification of the 1974 LBA, the premier said, “With this, a 68-year old humanitarian issue comes to a peaceful end. I appreciate Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in achieving it,” she said at a joint statement at her office in the capital.
She also extended thanks to the people of India and political parties for their unequivocal support to the agreement.
The premier also recalled the historic role of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to this regard and India’s enormous contribution during the country’s war of independence.
Modi in the statement expressed his confidence to reach a fair solution on Teesta and Feni rivers.
“I am confident that with the support of state governments in India, we can reach a fair solution on Teesta and Feni Rivers. We should also work together to renew and clean our rivers,” he said.
Both the leaders also laid importance on regional connectivity for the development of the two countries.
“Prime Minister Modi and I agree that greater connectivity is vital for the development of the two countries and for the region,” Hasina said.
“The signing of the coastal shipping agreement, the renewal of the trade agreement and the protocol on inland water transit and trade as well as flagging off new bus services are examples of our commitment to seamless connectivity,” she said.
Bangladesh PM said the relation between the two friendly countries reached a new height through the visit of Modi.
“It is indeed a great pleasure to have Prime Minister Narendra Modi among us. This is truly a historic moment. We are transforming our relationship to a new height,” she said.
The premier said India is certainly our most important neighbour and one of our big development partners.
“We have a very fruitful bilateral talks. Our conversations were warm, candid and forward looking. We understand each other’s concerns and priorities. We have discussed all aspects of our ever growing relationship,” she said.
Terming the bilateral discussion fruitful, Sheikh Hasina said the new trade facilitation measures incorporated in these agreements would create new opportunities for more trade, investment and business.
“Prime Minister Modi was receptive to the issue of growing trade deficit and assured of his government’s cooperation. To bring balance in trade between the two countries, we agreed to establish special economic zones in Mongla and Bheramara for India. We hope, this would increase Indian investment in Bangladesh substantially,” she said.
“We have signed a number of bilateral documents, covering diverse areas of cooperation, including economic, trade and investment, security, infrastructure development and culture. Cooperation in such a vast area shows the depth, breadth and maturity of our partnership for development,” she added.
The premier also said that they had discussed the issues of sharing of water of 54 common rivers.
“We both reiterated our strong commitments to making our borders peaceful and prosperous. We also pledged ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and extremism,” she said.
Describing healthy relation between the two countries, both the premiers agreed to strengthen people to people contact.
“We decided to open Bangladesh Mission in Guwahati, India missions in Khulna and Sylhet,” she said.
The PM said their vision for comprehensive and enduring relationship would be outlined in the joint declaration.
“We have to translate the declaration into concrete deliverables. I assure you that we are committed to extending full support and cooperation in this journey,” she said, terming her counterpart’s visit installed new dynamism and confidence in the relationship.
Apart from resolving the Teesta and Feni rivers issue, Modi in the joint statement said that India pledged to help Bangladesh make trade smoother and easier.
“Indian investments in Bangladesh will help bridge the trade gap between the countries. People in India admire your progress despite challenges. We want you to succeed in your vision 2021 and 2041,” he said.
The Indian premier also said that he was deeply honoured and touched by the gesture, outlined over his visit.
“For me, there is the wonderful feeling of visiting a close neighbour,” he said.
Stressing the relationship between Bangladesh and India as of ‘great importance for us and our region’, he said “We are successful fellow travellers on the road to development.”
“We stand at a moment of huge opportunity in our friendship. Prime Minister Hasina and I recognise that.”
Regarding the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement, which India ratified recently, he said, “We have resolved a question that has lingered since Independence. Our two nations have a settled boundary.”
Bangladesh and India are not just neighbours but “nations bound by the threads of history, religion, culture, language and kinship & a passion for cricket”, he said.
Over the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus services, Modi said the two bus services would connect citizens of the two countries more easily and “our two nations more closely”.
Modi landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by a special Indian flight at about 10:15 am.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cordially received her Indian counterpart at the airport.
He was given a guard of honour.
From the airport, Modi went to National Mausoleum at Savar to pay tribute to the Liberation War Martyrs.
After placing floral wreaths, he signed the visitors’ book and planted a sapling.
He then visited Bangabandhu Bhaban at Dhanmondi to pay homage to Bangladesh’s founder and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
JUNE 06, 2015