Hasina, Modi to meet in London

Even though signing of the Teesta water-sharing agreement is unlikely in the near future, the issue will dominate the talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during the Commonwealth summit in London on April 16-20.

Diplomatic sources said there were hectic efforts from Dhaka and New Delhi to hold the meeting on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

They said there was a speculation that Modi might visit Dhaka in the middle of this year to ink the Teesta deal, but in reality, “there is no such visible progress in India for signing the deal” since India is seeking time for building an internal consensus.

During Hasina's state visit to India on April 7-10 in 2017, Modi had committed to signing the treaty during this tenure of the BJP and the Awami League governments.

Diplomatic sources said officials at the foreign ministries were discussing the agenda for the Hasina-Modi London meet. It is expected that the meeting and its agenda would be fixed during Indian External Affairs Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale's Dhaka visit on April 8-9.

Hasina would leave for London on April 16. On April 19-20, she would take part in the main discussions along with heads of governments from 53 countries.

An official at the Prime Minister's Office said Hasina has planned bilateral engagements with the UK and other participating heads of governments. Returning home on April 23, Hasina would leave for Australia on April 26 to attend the Global Summit of Women in Sydney on April 26-28.

“India is giving priority to gain more confidence of Bangladesh government and Modi will ask Hasina to put her trust in him and India will not frustrate Bangladesh in signing of the Teesta deal in future,” said a diplomatic source in New Delhi.

The source said India was fully aware of the political situation in Bangladesh and sensitivity of Teesta deal, which might help Hasina in the upcoming general election, but India has already conveyed the message that it would not give any specific timeframe for signing the agreement.

However, Modi will discuss with Hasina a host of bilateral, regional, and international issues, including India's sincerity to address the Rohingya crisis, regional security, and cooperate Bangladesh in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, said sources in Bangladesh and India. 

They said New Delhi fears violent incidents in Bangladesh ahead of the elections which could spill over.

The Indian foreign secretary would seek Dhaka's opinion on what steps could be taken for socio-economic development in Rakhine State for a sustainable solution to the crisis, they said.

Indian diplomatic sources said India is ready to assist Myanmar in building houses in Rakhine to help Bangladesh and Myanmar implement the process of repatriation and rehabilitation of the Rohingyas.


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