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BD, India sign 22 deals, MoUs

Teesta deal not now: Modi assures of early solution: Defence coop among MoUs

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News Desk  :
Dhaka and Delhi on Saturday inked 22 deals on diverse areas of cooperation following the official bilateral talks between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, according to agencies.

The much-talked about crucial Teesta water-sharing agreement will not be signed this time as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposes it.  

The Teesta is one of the cross-boundary rivers between Bangladesh and India, but the Teesta issue was left out of the agenda.  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now on a four-day State visit in India at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had prepared the latest draft of the Teesta Agreement during a State visit to Dhaka. It divides the waters of the Teesta equally between Bangladesh and India.

Teesta originates in Sikkim and flows through West Bengal into Bangladesh. In 2011, Dr Singh was preparing to sign the treaty during a trip to Dhaka, but at the last minute, Mamata stepped back stating that the terms were damaging for her state.

However, Narendra Modi on Saturday acknowledged the Teesta issue to have drawn "greatest attention" with regard to bilateral relations and expressed his "firm belief" that it would find an early solution.

 "I firmly believe that it is only my government and Excellency Sheikh Hasina, your government, that can and will find an early solution to Teesta water sharing," Modi said in a statement after talks with her visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

He added: "Along with our shared land boundaries are our shared rivers. They sustain our peoples and their livelihoods. And, the one that has attracted the greatest attention is the Teesta."

The Indian Premier described Teesta as an important factor for India, for Bangladesh and for India-Bangladesh relationship" while referring to the stake of India's West Bengal state in the matter.

 "I know that her (Mamata's) feelings for Bangladesh are as warm as my own . . . I assure you and the people of Bangladesh of our commitment and continuing efforts," he said. The 22 instruments Dhaka and New Delhi signed on Saturday covered diverse areas of bilateral cooperations including economic, defense cooperation, power, peaceful use of nuclear energy, outer space, information technology and mass media.

The two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing ceremony of documents after their talks at Hyderabad House, Indian Prime Minister's Office.

Four Memoranda of Understanding (MoU), out of the 22 documents, were exchanged in presence of the two Prime Ministers ahead of their joint press briefing following the bilateral talks.

Two Prime Ministers along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off new passenger bus services for Khulna-Kolkata route, trial run of Khulna-Kolkata Second Maitree Express and re-opening of Birol-Radhikapur rail route for freight.

The four MoUs which were exchanged in presence of the two Prime Ministers are on bilateral judicial sector cooperation, extending 3rd Line of Credit by India to Bangladesh, cooperation of peaceful use of outer space and passenger and cruise services on the coastal and protocol routes.

Law Minister Anisul Haq and Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj signed the MoU on bilateral judicial sector cooperation. The MoU on extending 3rd Line of Credit by India to Bangladesh was signed by ERD Secretary Kazi Shafiul Haque and Indian External Affairs Secretary Dr S Jaysankar. The MoU on cooperation of peaceful use of outer space was signed by BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood and A. S. Kiran Kumar, Secretary of the Department of Space, India.

The MoU on passenger and cruise services on the coastal and protocol route was signed by Shipping Secretaries of both the countries. The other documents are - MoU on Defence Cooperation Framework between the Governments of India and Bangladesh, MoU between Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiris), Tamil Nadu, India and Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangaldesh for enhancing cooperation in the field of strategic and operational studies.

One of the MoUs were signed between National Defence College, Dhaka, Bangladesh and National Defence College, New Delhi, India for enhancing cooperation in the field of national security, development and strategic studies.

The two countries signed an agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

An agreement was signed between India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and Bangladesh's Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) for the Exchange of Technical Information and Co-operation in the Regulation of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection.

Another agreement was signed with officials calling it Inter-Agency Agreement between Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP), Department of Atomic Energy of India and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) on cooperation regarding nuclear power plant projects in Bangladesh.

Of the rest of the deals there were MoU between the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of India and Information and Communication Technology Division of Bangladesh on co-operation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics; MoU between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of India and Bangladesh Government Computer Incident Response Team (BGD e-Gov CIRT); Bangladesh Computer Council of Information and Communication Technology division, Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and IT On Cooperation in the area of cyber security.

The two sides inked a MoU between the Government of India and the Government of Bangladesh on Establishing Border Haats across the border between India and Bangladesh. A MoU was also signed between the National Judicial Academy, India and the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Bangladeshi Judicial Officers in India.

Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping of India and the Department of Shipping of Bangladesh signed a MoU on cooperation on aids to navigation.

Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) signed a MoU on mutual scientific cooperation in the field of earth sciences for research and development.

The two sides signed a MoU on development of fairway from Sirajganj to Daikhowa and Ashuganj to Zakiganj on Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route.

The rest of the deals were MoU on cooperation in the field of mass media; agreement on audio-visual co-production; MoU on extending Defence LOC of US$ 500 million; agreement for the Regulation of Motor Vehicle Passenger Traffic (Khulna-Kolkata route) and SOP of the Agreement; MoU for Extending a 3rd Line of Credit (LoC); agreement for the construction of 36 community clinics in Bangladesh.

Ministers and High Officials of both the governments were present during the signing of the agreements and MoUs.

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