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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Hasina in India: Talks open with energy security

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar yesterday agreed that Bangladesh and India should work together to overcome the challenges posed by Russia-Ukraine war in ensuring energy security.

On the first day of her four-day India visit, Hasina discussed with Jaishankar a wide range of issues, including the Rohingya crisis and purchase of fuel from Delhi.

After the meeting, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen told reporters that if India has surplus oil to export to Bangladesh, Dhaka could consider buying it if the terms and prices are favourable.

“From India, we can get its surplus fuel [if any] on favourable terms and conditions. We will of course consider that,” he said.

Hasina told Jaishankar that many countries are facing problems due to the soaring prices of petrol, diesel and gas, the foreign secretary said adding that purchase of surplus fuel from India will be discussed today.

Masud said it’s not correct that Bangladesh cannot buy oil from Russia, and that they are now scrutinising technical specifications to that end.

At yesterday’s meeting, Hasina raised the Myanmar issue, referring to the unrest in Rakhine province.

In response, Jaishankar said India is keeping an eye on the recent unrest in Rakhine.

The Bangladesh PM said there is apprehension that the recent unrest in Rakhine would hamper the Rohingya repatriation.

“Everyone feels that apprehension,” he said, quoting the premier.

The Bangladesh foreign secretary expressed optimism that the procedures for signing seven MoUs (memorandum of understanding) would be completed last night and placed during bilateral talks between Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today.

“These are likely to be finalised tonight [Monday night],” he said.

The Bangladesh foreign secretary said the transfer of electricity from Bhutan and Nepal to Bangladesh through the Indian power grid would also come up for discussion today.

He said Hasina and Jaishankar also agreed to expedite the revival of all modes of connectivity, as the air, road and rail links, disrupted by Covid-19 pandemic, have been restored.

Jaishankar, who called on Hasina at ITC Maurya, said he was delighted to meet the Bangladesh PM.

“The warmth and frequency of our leadership level contacts is a testimony to our close neighbourly partnership,” he tweeted.

Earlier in the day when Hasina arrived at Palam Airport, India rolled out a red carpet to welcome her.

The premier then visited Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah and offered prayers.

Indian State Minister for Railways and Textiles Darshana Vikram Jardosh received her at the airport. A six-member cultural team performed a welcome dance.

“Immensely honoured to welcome and receive hon’ble PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina ji in New Delhi. Her visit will mark a new chapter in the ever-deepening Indo-Bangladesh ties under the astute leadership of Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi ji and Sheikh Hasina ji,” Jardosh tweeted.

Later in the day, Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani called on Hasina.

Following the meeting, Adani tweeted, “It is an honour to have met Hon PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in Delhi. Her vision for Bangladesh is inspirational and stunningly bold.

“We are committed to commissioning our 1,600 MW Godda Power Project and dedicated transmission line to Bangladesh by Bijoy Dibosh, 16 Dec 2022,” he wrote.

Hasina is scheduled to have a one-to-one meeting with Modi at the Hyderabad House at 11:00am today.

She will be formally received by her Indian counterpart while a ceremonial guard of honour will be accorded to her there.

Hasina is also expected to make separate courtesy calls on Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

She will also visit the family members of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee the same day.

In the wake of the global economic headwinds set off by the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid pandemic, Hasina’s visit to India carries significance as the two neighbours seek enhanced cooperation to overcome the challenges and ensure stability in South Asia.

[Our New Delhi correspondent contributed to this report.]

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