News Analysis: Modi’s Bangladesh visit to strengthen bilateral ties

modi jiDHAKA, June 3 (Xinhua) — The state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh, scheduled this weekend, is expected to strengthen bilateral relationship between the two neighboring countries.

In a statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the visit of Modi, upon invitation of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, reflects the importance attached by India to its neighbor.

The visit is expected to further expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between the two countries and strengthen the ties of friendship and trust between Bangladesh and India, the Ministry statement said.

During his much-hyped Bangladesh visit, Modi will send a strong message that India will go to great lengths to strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, said a diplomatic source in New Delhi

There are no indications that the contentious water-sharing deal of the Teesta River between the two countries will be among the issues to be discussed by the two leaders.

But a expert said that Modi may just pull a surprise by agreeing to discuss the Teesta River deal.

“My hunch is that there’ll be some surprises and breakthroughs that may even include the Teesta deal,” Dr Imtiaz Ahmed said.

Imtiaz believes that Modi would like to settle the Teesta issue this time or may declare that it will be done within the next two or three months when Bangladesh Prime Minister Hashina will make a return visit to New Delhi.

Professor Imtiaz, who teaches at Dhaka University’s International Relations Department and is director of Center for Genocide Studies at the university, said he will not be surprised if the Teesta deal will finally be settled since West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is also visiting Dhaka ahead of Modi.

But M. Humayun Kabir, former Bangladesh Ambassador to Washington, said that he does not believe that the Teesta issue would be in the agenda of the talks between Modi and Hasina and even with Mamata since “there are still many side issues that must be settled first before the deal is put in the agenda.”

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday clearly said the Teesta water sharing agreement will not be discussed during Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.

Ambassador Kabir said that during Mamata’s visit ,the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between West Bengal and Bangladesh could be formally signed and rules on its implementation would be finalized.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said she would visit Bangladesh on Friday and return home on Saturday after the signing the LBA.

When Professor Imtiaz’s attention was drawn to a report carried by an international news agency claiming that Modi’s Dhaka visit is part of India’s mission to reduce China’s influence on South Asia, he replied: “I don’t think so, at least at this age of globalization. I think China-India relations are now deeper than before.”

Imtiaz said that considering the current situation, Modi is now more open to have greater relations with China.

“Reducing the influence of China is not the objective of Modi’s visit. His objective could be having more Chinese and Bangladeshi investments in the Indian Northeast which would be the much smarter move,” Imtiaz said.


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