Dhaka, Thimpu agree to boost connectivity, trade power | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 25, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:44 AM, March 25, 2021

Dhaka, Thimpu agree to boost connectivity, trade power

Bangladesh and Bhutan have reached a consensus to enhance connectivity as well as trade in electricity, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said yesterday.

"We have focused on connectivity. Bhutan wants direct flights from Bangladesh," he said at a press briefing at the Foreign Service Academy in the capital, following a meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Dr Lotay Tshering.

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Tshering arrived on Tuesday to join the celebrations of Mujib Borsho and golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence.

Momen said passenger trains on Chilahati-Haldibari route will be starting soon, and that route can be linked to Bhutan via India. "We will make the proposal to India to allow such a link. Bhutan can also raise the issue with India."

Agreement on hydropower can be done both trilateral and bilateral. "If it is a trilateral arrangement, we can surely discuss with India. Nepal and Bhutan think our prime minster will to speak to India."

"Bangladesh, Bhutan and India can set up a hydropower project in Bhutan and then Bangladesh can import it via India. We are interested about green energy. It was agreed. But the bureaucratic process is delaying it," said the foreign minister.

The Bhutanese PM said Bangladesh and Bhutan can also do it bilaterally.

Momen said Bangladesh is already buying energy from India, but cannot do it from Bhutan. PM Hasina has raised the issue with her Indian counterpart in the past. The issue will also be raised during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh.

"As we buy hydroelectricity, we can also sell our energy to Bhutan in winter when they need more."UNB adds: Hasina put emphasis on constructing necessary infrastructures to reap the highest benefits from the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) signed between Bangladesh and Bhutan last year.

PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.

The Bhutanese PM requested Hasina to issue one-time multiple full term visa for their students studying in Bangladesh. She agreed on the issue and asked the officials concerned for taking necessary steps.

Some 100 Bangladeshi products will get duty-free access to Bhutan under the PTA and 34 Bhutanese products to the Bangladeshi market.

Asked about Modi's visit, Momen said Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Museum will be inaugurated during Modi's visit. Besides, Swadhinata Sarak, which connects India with Mujibnagar, will also be opened.

President Abdul Hamid, meanwhile, said Dhaka and Thimphu can explore new areas of cooperation, including information and communication technology, agriculture, horticulture, tourism and fisheries, to enhance trade and investment between the two friendly countries, reports BSS.

During Lotay Tshering's call on the president at the Bangabhaban yesterday, President Hamid recalled the support of Bhutan during the Liberation War.

President's Press Secretary Joynal Abedin briefed the media after the meeting.

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