Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, left, and Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, middle, cut a ribbon to inaugurate BRTC's Articulated Bus Service at the former's office in the capital yesterday. The government procured the Ashok-Leyland made articulated buses from India under a one billion dollar Indian line of credit.Photo: BSS
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid yesterday told Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that his government wants to see zero casualties along the border with Bangladesh.
Khurshid, who arrived here on Saturday to attend the second Indo-Bangla Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting, also talked about regional connectivity, border haat and power import from India.
In response, Hasina said her government was committed to working for further strengthening and consolidating the existing excellent bilateral relations between the two countries.
She expressed satisfaction over signing of MoUs and protocols during the JCC meet, and said these instruments would help further consolidate the relations of both the countries.
About the upcoming visit of the Indian president, the prime minister said Dhaka is keenly looking forward to welcoming Pranab Mukherjee which will further enhance the relations with the neighbouring country.
After the meeting, held at the PM's office, her Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad briefed reporters about the outcome, reports UNB.
Khurshid also handed over a cheque for $50 million to Sheikh Hasina as the first instalment of $200m Indian grants to Bangladesh.
The Indian government decided to provide $200m as grant to Bangladesh out of its One Billion US Dollar Line of Credit.
Later, prior to leaving for New Delhi ending his two-day visit, Salman Khurshid addressed a press conference.
On the border killings, the Indian minister regretted the incidents as â€œunfortunateâ€ saying one incident happened prior to his coming here and another during his Dhaka tour, reports our diplomatic correspondent.
Khurshid added he would consult the matter with the Indian home minister.
Replying to a question about the progress of trial in Felani killing case, the he said an internal inquiry is in progress but he could not detail the latest position of the inquiry.
Referring to the photo of Felani hanging from a barbed-wire fence at the border, he said it was a very sad picture. â€œFelani is not only a Bangladeshi girl, she is a young child and a daughter of both sides of the border.â€
On India-Bangladesh ties, Khurshid said, â€œI don't see any reason to believe that it will reverseâ€¦ I don't think there should be a departure. I'm optimistic and I believe that this march forward of history will continue.â€
â€œWe are doing whatever we need to do as responsible government at our end to ensure that there is less cause for such things to happen.â€
In reply to a question, Khurshid said his government acknowledged with gratitude for what Bangladesh has done to ensure that India's security was not compromised because of people using Bangladesh territory.
â€œSo, I've really no reason to be any doubt that this is something that will stand as test of time will be permanent as nature.â€
Khurshid, further said, â€œI think we've move forward and I've not seen any signs of disagreement and dissent or divergent of views as far as this dimension and aspect of our relationship of India and Bangladesh is concerned.â€
On another question about the next general elections, he said it was an internal political matter of Bangladesh. However, he said he understood that there are divergent views about the holding of the elections and hoped that political parties would find ways through consultations and prepare for elections.
About his meeting with Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia yesterday evening, Khurshid said it was a courtesy call and bilateral issues including border and recently signing of the two agreements were discussed.
He said Khaleda Zia discussed the existing political and socio-economic situation prevailing in Bangladesh. It was a cordial meeting.
Regarding the implementation of the additional protocol for implementation of 1974 land Boundary Agreement, he reiterated that a constitutional amendment bill will be placed in the next budget session of the Indian parliament beginning on February 21.
He said Manmohan Singh has given him clear instruction to take all parties on board to pass the bill. â€œThis would be a major milestone to be achieved.â€
About the Teesta agreement, the Indian minister said it is the unanimous decision of India to sign the deal. However, he mentioned some local factors (West Bengal CM's opposition) delaying the process. He hoped the things would be sorted out in the next fee weeks.
Asked about the youth movement at Shahbagh, Khurshid, smiling, said he could not talk to any of the protestors; he had only seen national flags and heard slogans.
However, he said nobody has clear ideas how much this will bring change in politics. Most people are trying to understand and analysing it.
The external affairs minister also had meetings with Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia, Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir and Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen.