Indian foreign secretary due on April 8
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale is coming to Dhaka on April 8 on a two-day visit at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart.
During the visit of Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale, discussion on several bilateral issues including the Teesta water-sharing deal and upcoming summit meeting of prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi would take place.
Gokhale reaches Dhaka on Sunday and is scheduled to meet the top leadership including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali the next day before returning home on April 10.
He would also meet his Bangladesh counterpart Md Shahidul Haque when they have a comprehensive review of relations.
The two foreign secretaries would review areas of bilateral cooperation between the two sides, including pending issues of upcoming important visits that include Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh's tour likely in May.
The proposed meeting of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on April 16-20 would also come up prominently at the meeting.
It would also finalise the agenda for discussion of the meeting between Hasina and Modi, diplomatic sources say.
As per the programme schedule, Gokhale arrives at 4:00pm on Sunday and would have an interaction with the think-tank leaders, civil society and media persons. The next day he along with Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi takes part in a bilateral conclave on “India-Bangladesh Relations: Deepening Cooperation and the Way Forward” to be organised by the Institute of Policy, Advocacy and Governance (IPAG).
He is also set to attend the signing ceremony of some Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) at the State Guesthouse Meghna at 11:30am on Monday. He would also make a press statement there. In the evening, he is expected to call on the prime minister.
The substantive part of Gokhale's visit, first since his taking over as the top diplomat in February, would be as much on bilateral issues as on regional including the Rohingya crisis.
The Indian army chief's recent remarks over Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, Rohingya repatriation and non-issuance of national identity cards to the Muslims in Assam would also come up for discussion.
Gokhale is also expected to enquire about Bangladesh's growing ties with China in recent months.
During his talks with Hasina and Ali, the Indian foreign secretary is expected to convey his country's firm commitment to further consolidating bilateral ties with Bangladesh under the rubric of 'neighbourhood first' policy underlined by Modi.
However, Bangladesh and India also have some rough edges in their relations as Dhaka still waits for a breakthrough on the Teesta water-sharing treaty and expects New Delhi to put more pressure on Myanmar to begin repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. There is considerable disappointment in Bangladesh over India's stand on the twin issues so far.
On Teesta, Modi repeatedly conveyed to Bangladeshi leaders that efforts were on to bring West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on board, but there has been little visible progress beyond that. He also gave the word to sign the water-sharing deal during his and Hasina's current tenure.
On the Rohingya issue, Bangladesh wants India to use its robust ties with Myanmar to weigh on Myanmar leaders to at least make a beginning of the refugee repatriation exercise.
The two neighbours have a convergence of views on the threats posed by terrorism and radicalisation of youth and work closely to tackle terror and terror groups.
The two countries have recently signed a trilateral MoU with Russia to help build the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Pabna. The Indian foreign secretary during his visit may discuss how to take forward the partnership in civil nuclear area.