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Connectivity, security cooperation to be key focus of Narendra Modi's Bangladesh visit

New Delhi:  Enhancing rail, road and water connectivity, boosting economic engagement and expanding security cooperation are likely to be major focus areas during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day maiden visit to Bangladesh beginning Saturday.The visit
PTI June 01, 2015 21:01 IST
PTI

New Delhi:  Enhancing rail, road and water connectivity, boosting economic engagement and expanding security cooperation are likely to be major focus areas during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day maiden visit to Bangladesh beginning Saturday.

The visit is expected to bring a new momentum in overall bilateral ties as it follows Parliament's approval to a Constitution amendment bill that provides for implementation of the 1974 land boundary agreement between the two neighbours to settle the 41-year-old border issue.

Both sides are likely to sign a number of deals including on enhancing connectivity to ensure greater people-to-people contact. Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina are set to flag-off the bus service between Kolkata and Agartala via Dhaka and the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service.

The two countries are keen to strengthen railway connectivity, particularly to revive railway links which were in existence prior to 1965. The two countries are set to sign a coastal shipping agreement to facilitate sailing of small vessels from India to various ports in Bangladesh which now go through Singapore.

India will also push for involvement of Indian companies in setting up of ports in that country.

The issue of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement is also likely to figure in the talks Modi will have with Hasina. The agreement, minus Pakistan, is likely to be signed soon.

India feels improving connectivity with Bangladesh will help linking the Northeastern region with Southeast Asia.

On the trade front, there will be efforts to spur Indian by TheAdBlock"> investment  in Bangladesh and an enabling MoU may be signed to facilitate setting up of Special Economic Zones by Indian companies in that country. The current volume of bilateral trade is around USD 6.5 billion out of which India's export is around USD 6 billion.

Ties between India and Bangladesh are on an upswing ever since the Hasina government came to power in January 2009 and the Indian side will make every effort to strengthen the relationship considering its strategic interests.

Bangladesh and India share a 4096-km-long border, most of which is porous, and both the countries are likely to try and find ways to enhance security cooperation, particularly to further contain northeast insurgent groups. The Hasina government has taken steps against northeast militants who used to take refuge in Bangladesh.

There has been perceptible decline in activities of Pakistan-backed fundamentalist elements in Bangladesh and Modi would like to further cement bilateral ties with the Hasina government considering India's strategic interests.