50 Yrs of Independence: Three high-profile visits this month | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 03, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:06 AM, March 03, 2021

50 Yrs of Independence: Three high-profile visits this month

Indian PM, presidents of Maldives, Nepal to join celebration in Dhaka

There will be a number of high-profile visits to Bangladesh later this month, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari, to attend the country's celebrations of 50 years of independence.

Additionally, some agreements and MoUs may be signed during the visits, which will also include formal meetings, officials said.

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Modi, scheduled to visit on March 26-27, is likely to visit memorials of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Tungirapara, which is also the birthplace of the Father of the Nation.

During the visit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart are likely to inaugurate the passenger train between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri in India's West Bengal on March 26, as part of the celebrations of Bangladesh's golden jubilee of independence.

The rail connectivity between the two cities had been suspended since 1965.

"It would be a symbolic plying of the train, but passengers may not be able to start regular journeys at this moment due to the pandemic," a railway ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, told this correspondent.

He said the two premiers will also hold a meeting on bilateral cooperation. Ahead of the summit, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is scheduled to visit Dhaka and hold a meeting with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen tomorrow, foreign ministry officials said.

The two ministers would be finalising the agenda of the meeting of the two prime ministers, a foreign ministry official told this correspondent yesterday.

All issues, including water, trade and connectivity, border killings, will be discussed during the meeting, the official said.

A water secretary-level meeting between India and Bangladesh is likely to be hold before Modi's visit, but officials could not confirm the date yet.

"We would like to see the minister-level meeting of the Joint River Commission of India and Bangladesh," a foreign ministry official said, preferring not to be named.

Ahead of the summit-level meeting, home secretaries of the two countries held a virtual meeting last week. Indian Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan is scheduled to hold a meeting with Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Md Zafar Uddin on March 7-8 in Dhaka.

Maldives President Solih will be visiting Bangladesh on March 17-19. Details of his visit are yet to be finalised but a foreign ministry official said Bangladesh may sign two MoUs with the Maldives.

The Maldives is home to some 90,000 Bangladeshis and  it wants to recruit skilled professionals, mostly in the healthcare sector, from Bangladesh. Bangladesh also wants to establish a direct shipping link to increase trade and investment.

As climate vulnerable countries, the Maldives and Bangladesh also want to work together in the global forums, officials said.

Nepalese President Bhandari will be visiting Bangladesh on March 22-23.

Bangladesh wants to sign an MoU to establish a Joint Commission with Nepal as part of improving trade and commerce, a foreign ministry official said.

"We will strengthen our relations with neighbours and other countries of the world as we mature as a nation and develop our trade, commerce and connectivity," the official said.

During the visits, the heads of the states and/or governments will hold meetings and join different events, and preparations are underway, the official said. 

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