Bangladesh spends much of 75-minute summit raising bilateral issues
The continuous delay in a translation of assurances from New Delhi on the pressing issues between Bangladesh and India into reality frustrates the government, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Thursday after the first-ever virtual summit between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
However, during a press conference at the State Guesthouse Padma, he expressed his satisfaction over the meet summit, saying: “We are very happy about the summit.”
When asked if the continuous delay in implementing assurances from India on pressing issues such as the Teesta River water sharing deal, border killings and removal of non-tariff barriers frustrated the government, the foreign minister responded with a counter-question, “Does it frustrate you?”
Receiving an affirmative answer, he said: “We are Bangladeshis. It frustrates us too.”
The foreign minister said that Bangladesh had utilised most of the 75-minute-long summit to raise all manner of issues confronting the two neighbours.
“On every issue, they [India] are sympathetic. We will solve the issues slowly,” he said.
“Both the prime ministers expressed satisfaction over the ongoing neighbour-first policy,” he added.
The prime minister requested her Indian counterpart to inform Bangladesh prior to suspending exports so that Dhaka could ensure imports from elsewhere, Dr Momen said.
To a question regarding the Teesta River water sharing agreement, which was supposed to be signed more than nine years ago, he said that the Indian prime minister had reiterated that his government was still engaged in internal discussions.
In response to a Bangladeshi request for a meeting of the Joint River Commission to be held, India was more or less sympathetic, said the foreign minister.
Bangladesh requested India to grant road and rail access to Nepal and Bhutan through India, he said, adding that India had shown some interest in this regard.
The foreign minister said that both the leaders discussed matters related to power, delimitation of some rivers, water sharing of some common rivers, celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of diplomatic relations between Dhaka and New Delhi.
Bangladesh had expressed its interest in getting connected with the India-Myanmar-Thailand road, with the Indian prime minister holding out an assurance of help, he said.
India had requested Bangladesh to join BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bank that is worth $100 billion and Bangladesh had agreed to it, as the country needed money, Dr Momen said.
Both the countries signed seven bilateral instruments with regard to cooperation in different sectors, he said.
India assures help in resolving Rohingya crisis, again
India has yet again assured Bangladesh of its assistance in resolving the protracted Rohingya crisis, which is affecting Bangladesh in a very negative way.
The popular belief in Bangladesh is that India is not doing as it should and could to exert pressure on Myanmar, an Indian ally, to take back home its own people.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen told the press conference that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during the summit, had requested Modi to help solve the crisis by using India’s influence as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The Indian prime minister realized that a lingering of the crisis would create problems, including terrorism, and that the solution lay in the repatriation of the Rohingyas, he said.
‘India’s eastern border safe. What more can be wanted?’
When queried what India had asked during the summit, the foreign minister, avoiding a direct reply, said: “Their eastern border is safe. What more can be asked?”
In a good bilateral relationship, both countries benefited as Bangladesh and India were getting benefited, he added.
Peace and stability were important for the prosperity of both the countries, said Dr Momen.
“We also told them [India] that many of their people worked in our country while our people went to India for different purposes,” he said.