Confident about Teesta solution
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed firm resolve to reach a solution on the long-standing issues of the 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," said the visiting Indian premier while speaking at a joint press briefing with his Bangladesh counterpart at the Prime Minister's Office in Dhaka.
Modi said, "Our rivers should nurture our relationship, not become a source of discord."
The Indian prime minister reckoned that water sharing is a human issue, which affects life and livelihood on both sides of the border.
In his address, Modi said, "We are not just neighbours. We are two nations bound by the threads of history, religion, culture, language and kinship – and, of course, passion for cricket."
"We have the emotional bonds of shared struggles and sacrifices that bring us together as sovereign and equal nations," he continued.
He spoke of his firm belief in the shared prosperity of neighbours and said, "That is why the future I dream for India is the future I wish for Bangladesh."
Earlier on the day, Modi spoke about launching of two bus services, which he said would connect "our citizens more easily and our two nations more closely."
"It will also open new economic doors for India's Northeast and it will enable our two countries to integrate South Asia and connect it with the dynamic East."
Referring to the Saarc, he said the vision of Saarc is "a gift from Bangladesh."
"We are also among the largest contributors to United Nations Peacekeeping. And, we can also make our region safer and more prosperous, and the seas more secure. This is a relationship of great importance for us and our region."
Referring to the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), the visiting Indian premier said, "We have resolved a question that has lingered since Independence. Our two nations have a settled boundary. It will make our borders more secure and people's life there more stable."
The Indian parliament's approval of LBA reflects the consensus in India on relations with Bangladesh, Modi observed.
He also said, "We accepted the settlement of the maritime boundary last year. It is evidence of the maturity of our ties and our shared commitment to international rules."
Modi said both he and his Bangladesh counterpart recognised that "we stand at a moment of huge opportunity in our relationship."
"We will work together to harness the rich potential of our relationship. And we will address our challenges in a spirit of friendship and from a position of mutual trust and confidence."
The Indian prime minister also said, "We have renewed existing trade and transport agreements. We have added new dimensions to our economic ties."
Modi hoped the coastal shipping agreement would boost bilateral trade. "The Indian Economic Zone will promote Indian investments in Bangladesh," he added.
He went on to add, "The new border haat at Kamalasagar will reinforce traditional economic links, and the agreement on blue economy and maritime cooperation opens a new area of economic opportunities. We should now extend our frontiers of cooperation to Space."
The Indian prime minister acknowledged the huge trade imbalance in Bangladesh's disfavour. He said, "I am conscious of the huge trade imbalance, despite duty free and quota free access of Bangladeshi products to India except 25 items. Yet, I have assured Prime Minister that we will do everything we can to bridge the deficit."
Hoping that Indian investments would help Bangladesh, he assured that he would try to make trade smoother and easier, including trade at the border. "The agreement on standards and testing is a step in that direction."
Modi said power supply from India to Bangladesh would grow from 500 MW to 1100 MW within two years.
He stated that the 1320 MW Rampal power project is making progress and said, "We can do more together in power sector, here and in India."
Terming connectivity as the catalyst for deeper engagement, the Indian premier said, connectivity by road, rail, rivers, sea, transmission lines, petroleum pipelines and digital links would increase.
"Today, we have unveiled some of the pathways to this future."
He said India would deepen regional connectivity and cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. There is a natural logic to this arrangement, he added.
"Bangladesh's decision to allow transit of power equipment and food grain to the Northeast echoes the strength of your human values and our shared economic opportunities."
Modi said the Indo-Bangla development partnership is scaling new heights. He termed the quick implementation of the line of credit of 800 million US dollars and full disbursement of 200 million US dollars in grant as a "tribute to our cooperation."
He declared, "We are pleased to extend another line of credit of 2 billion US dollars to support infrastructure and other development activities in Bangladesh."
Modi deemed the signing of agreements on human trafficking, fake Indian currency and maritime safety as manifestation of growing security cooperation between the two countries.
He said, "I am confident that we both have the political will and mutual confidence to further improve border management and coordination to prevent illegal activities, trafficking and movements."
Modi said people in India admire Bangladesh's progress despite many challenges. "We want you to succeed in your Mission 2021 and 2041. The success of Bangladesh is important for the region and the world," noted the Indian premier.
He said he was deeply honoured and touched by Bangladesh's special gestures for his current visit.
"Everything I have experienced here reflects the warmth and generosity of the people of Bangladesh. And for me, there is the wonderful feeling of visiting a close neighbour."
Calling Bangabandhu "a great leader of our era", Modi said he paid tribute to Bangabandhu during a morning visit to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum.
"His vision and leadership, his humanism and sacrifices, gave birth to the dream of Sonar Bangla," Modi said. "Today, that dream prospers through the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the genius of the people of Bangladesh."