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Joint Communiqué issued on the occasion of the visit to India of Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

January 12, 2010

  • Reaffirming the shared history, traditional links and the desire of the leaders of the two countries to launch a new phase in their bilateral relations, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina is paying a state visit to India from 10-13 January, 2010 at the invitation of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Apart from attending the official programme in New Delhi, the Bangladesh Prime Minister will also visit Ajmer Sharif.
  • The Bangladesh Prime Minister was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 11 January 2010. She called on President of India Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
  • Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna, Railway Minister Kumari Mamata Banerjee and Leader of the Opposition Smt. Sushma Swaraj called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
  • Reflecting the friendly relations existing between the two neighbouring countries, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in her capacity as President of the Awami League and the Awami League-led Mohajote government also called on Smt Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance. She also met with former Prime Minister Shri I.K. Gujral. The meetings and exchanges were marked by great warmth and cordiality on both sides.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh paid tribute and respect to the memories of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawarlal Nehru, Smt Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi at Rajghat, Shantivana, Shaktisthal and Virbhumi respectively.
  • During the visit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2009 at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh had a meeting with the Prime Minister of India on January 11, 2010, which was followed by delegation level talks. The talks were marked by great warmth, deep understanding and a spirit of close friendship between the two sides. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a banquet in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her accompanying delegation.
  • On the Bangladesh side, assisting the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in the talks were: Mr. Ramesh Chandra Sen, MP, Minister of Water Resources; Dr. Dipu Moni MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Advisers to the Prime Minister Mr. H.T. Imam, Mr. Mashiur Rahman and Mr. Gowher Rizvi; High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Mr. Tariq A. Karim and other senior officials of the Bangladesh Government.
  • On the Indian side, assisting the Prime Minister of India were: Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister; Shri P. Chidambaram, Home Minister; Shri S.M. Krishna, External Affairs Minister; Kumari Mamata Banerjee, Minister of Railways; Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce; Smt Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs; Shri M.K. Narayanan, National Security Adviser; Shri T.K.A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and other senior officials of the Indian Government.
  • Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her party’s impressive electoral victory in the general elections held in December 2008 and lauded the people of Bangladesh for their abiding faith in democracy, which eventually paved the way for return of multi-party democracy in Bangladesh. Both leaders agreed that the recent elections in both countries presented them with a historic opportunity to write a new chapter in their relationship.
  • The Bangladesh Prime Minister recalled the shared bonds of history, culture and aspirations that bind Bangladesh and India, and paid tribute to the sacred memory of the lives sacrificed for the freedom and independence of the two countries. She called for rededicating efforts to establish a society free from ignorance, fear and want.
  • Both the Prime Ministers agreed on a vision for the future in the pursuit of the common good - bilaterally, regionally and globally. In this context, they reiterated their commitment to work together to solve all issues through cooperation and mutual understanding. They also shared their outlook on the strengthening and reform of multilateral institutions in which developing countries have an effective voice and participation.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the Prime Minister of India recognized that peace and stability in the region is necessary for development and well-being of the people of their respective countries. In this context, they emphasized the importance of close cooperation between India and Bangladesh and the need to effectively harness their respective resources for the good of the peoples of the two countries.
  • The two Prime Ministers agreed to put in place a comprehensive framework of cooperation for development between the two countries, encapsulating their mutually shared vision for the future, which would include cooperation in water resources, power, transportation and connectivity, tourism and education. They agreed on the need to operationalize the various areas of cooperation at the earliest.
  • Both Prime Ministers agreed to consider strengthening diplomatic and consular presence in each other’s countries.
  • Both Prime Ministers reiterated their commitment to democracy, pluralism and rule of law. They expressed satisfaction that the people of both countries have rejected violence, extremism and terrorism and reaffirmed their faith in democracy and development. In this quest, the two leaders resolved to work together to strengthen the forces of democracy and moderation.
  • Both Prime Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They noted that security remained a priority for both countries, as terrorists, insurgents and criminals respect no boundaries. They underscored the need for both countries to actively cooperate on security issues. Both leaders reiterated the assurance that the territory of either would not be allowed for activities inimical to the other and resolved not to allow their respective territory to be used for training, sanctuary and other operations by domestic or foreign terrorist/militant and insurgent organizations and their operatives.
  • Welcoming the Home Secretary level talks held in New Delhi in December 2009, the two Prime Ministers directed their respective Ministries and agencies to cooperate closely and implement all decisions taken during the talks. While recognizing the need to check cross border crimes, both Prime Ministers agreed that the respective border guarding forces exercise restraint and underscored the importance of regular meetings between the border guarding forces to curtail illegal cross border activities and prevent loss of lives.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh thanked the Prime Minister of India for facilitating the provision of electricity in Dahagram-Angarpota and invited India to construct a flyover across Tin Bigha Corridor for exclusive Indian use, as agreed earlier.
  • Both Prime Ministers agreed to comprehensively address all outstanding land boundary issues keeping in view the spirit of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement. In this context, they agreed to convene the Joint Boundary Working Group to take this process forward.
  • Both Prime Ministers agreed on the need to amicably demarcate the maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh. They noted the initiation of proceedings under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, in this context, welcomed the visit of a delegation from Bangladesh to India.
  • It was agreed that Ashuganj in Bangladesh and Silghat in India shall be declared ports of call. The IWTT Protocol shall be amended through exchange of letters. A joint team will assess the improvement of infrastructure and the cost for one-time or longer term transportation of ODCs (Over Dimensional Cargo) from Ashuganj. India will make the necessary investment. Both Governments agreed to expedite implementation. Contractors from both countries shall be eligible for the work.
  • It was agreed that Bangladesh will allow use of Mongla and Chittagong sea ports for movement of goods to and from India through road and rail. Bangladesh also conveyed their intention to give Nepal and Bhutan access to Mongla and Chittagong ports.
  • It was agreed that the construction of the proposed Akhaura – Agartala railway link be financed by grant from India. A joint team of the railway authorities of the two countries will identify the alignment for connectivity.
  • They welcomed the starting of "Maitree Express” between Kolkata and Dhaka and called for resumption of road and rail links between the two countries.
  • The Prime Ministers agreed that Rohanpur–Singabad broad gauge railway link would be available for transit to Nepal. Bangladesh informed of their intention to convert Radhikapur – Birol railway line into broad gauge and requested for railway transit link to Bhutan as well.
  • Recognizing the sufferings of the people of both sides in the face of scarcity of lean season flows of the Teesta River, the Prime Ministers expressed that the discussions on the sharing of the Teesta waters between India and Bangladesh should be concluded expeditiously. The two Prime Ministers directed their respective Water Resources Ministers to convene the Ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission in this quarter of 2010. The Joint Rivers Commission will also discuss issues relating to Feni, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
  • They also agreed that the following actions be taken:
    1. Dredging of Ichhamati; and
    2. River protection at Mahananda, Karatoa, Nagar, Kulik, Atrai, Dharla, and Feni
  • The Prime Minister of India agreed to support implementation of strategy of Government of Bangladesh to dredge rivers for flood control, navigation and access to ports. In this context, India agreed to provide, inter alia, dredgers to Bangladesh on an urgent basis. Bangladesh indicated the need for 9 (nine) dredgers.
  • The Prime Minister of India reiterated the assurance that India would not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact Bangladesh.
  • The Prime Minister of India agreed to supply to Bangladesh 250 MW electricity from its grid. In this context, both Prime Ministers emphasized the need to expedite inter-grid connectivity. They also agreed that the two countries shall cooperate in development and exchange of electricity, including generation from renewable sources, and may set up joint projects or corporate entities for that purpose.
  • With a view to encouraging imports from Bangladesh, both countries agreed to address removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and port restrictions and facilitate movement of containerized cargo by rail and water. In this context, Bangladesh welcomed India’s initiative to provide duty-free access to SAARC LDCs to the Indian market. Bangladesh also welcomed the reduction of the number of items from India’s negative list that were of direct interest to Bangladesh and requested for further reduction in the list.
  • The Prime Minister of India agreed to support the upgradation of the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institute with a view to building capacity on certification.
  • The Prime Ministers agreed that investments, including joint investment and joint ventures, shall be encouraged by both countries. They agreed that the participation of the private sector in both countries will give an added fillip to economic engagement between the two countries.
  • The Prime Ministers agreed to operationalize land customs stations at Sabroom-Ramgarh and Demagiri-Thegamukh, including putting in place necessary infrastructure and issue necessary notifications. Further, with respect to existing land custom stations, it was agreed to take measures for strengthening infrastructure.
  • It was agreed that border haats shall be established on a pilot basis at selected areas, including on the Meghalaya border, to allow trade in specified produces and products and in accordance with the regulations agreed and notified by both Governments.
  • It was agreed that trucks for movement from Bhutan and Nepal be allowed to enter about 200 meters into Zero Point at Banglabandh at Banglabandh-Phulbari land customs station. Necessary arrangements shall be mutually agreed and put in place by both countries.
  • The Prime Minister of India announced a line of credit of US$ 1 billion for a range of projects, including railway infrastructure, supply of BG locomotives and passenger coaches, rehabilitation of Saidpur workshop, procurement of buses including articulate buses and dredging projects.
  • Bangladesh requested for assistance to construct road infrastructure in Dhaka, including flyovers. India agreed to consider this request.
  • Recalling the shared legacy of the great poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the Prime Ministers agreed to oversee the joint celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in 2011 in a manner befitting his vision and spirit.
  • Government of India would offer Bangladesh 300 scholarships annually for a period of five years for study and training in Universities and training institutions in India, covering a wide range of disciplines as may be required by scholars and persons in government employment. The number may be increased through mutual consultation.
  • Both Prime Ministers underscored the role of SAARC in promoting regional cooperation. Both leaders agreed to work together in making SAARC a purposeful organization oriented towards implementation, which can revitalize the region through positive measures, concerted action and mutually reinforcing cooperation.
  • Both leaders welcomed the various steps taken to strengthen regional cooperation under BIMSTEC. In this context, Bangladesh requested India to support its aspiration to host the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka. India agreed to give the request due consideration.
  • The two Prime Ministers welcomed the initiatives taken at the Climate Change Summit at Copenhagen in December 2009. They underlined that climate change was one of the most important global challenges. They reaffirmed the provisions and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including that of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and underscored the importance of its full, effective and sustained implementation, giving due consideration to the needs of those which are most vulnerable, especially Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Africa.
  • Both leaders recognized that the eradication of poverty and ensuring food security were great challenges of the century. They agreed that the international community should initiate a fully coordinated response and address these issues in a comprehensive manner, from short to medium and long term. They also recognized the need to give added focus on rural development policies, transfer and diffusion of technology and development, in particular to enhance agricultural productivity.
  • The Prime Ministers underscored the importance of an effective multilateral system, centered on a strong United Nations, as a key factor in tackling global challenges. In this context, they stressed the urgent need to pursue the reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, to make it more representative, credible and effective, particularly with regard to its working method. They also advocated involvement of smaller countries in the reform process.
  • Responding to the Prime Minister of India, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh conveyed her country’s support in principle for India’s candidature for the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council as and when the reform of the UN Security Council is achieved. Bangladesh conveyed its support to the Indian Candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC for the term 2011-2012. India also conveyed its support to the Bangladesh’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in UNSC for the term 2016-2017.
  • The two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing in their presence of the following accords:
    1. Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters
    2. Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons
    3. Agreement on Combating International Terrorism, Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking
    4. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Power Sector
    5. Cultural Exchange Programme

    The Prime Ministers also expressed the desire that Line of Credit and the comprehensive framework of cooperation for development be operationalized at the earliest.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh thanked the Prime Minister of India and the Indian Government and people for the warm and gracious hospitality extended to her and the members of her delegation during their stay in India.
  • The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on behalf of herself, her Government and the people of Bangladesh, extended her warm invitation to the Prime Minister of India and Mrs. Manmohan Singh to visit Bangladesh at a mutually convenient time. The Prime Minister of India thanked the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and accepted the invitation with great pleasure. The dates for the visit would be decided by mutual consultations through diplomatic channels.


New Delhi
January 12, 2010

 

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