India promises to cut trade gap: Hasina

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday hoped that there would be an early solution to the issue of sharing waters of the river Teesta with Bangladesh, while describing Dhaka's zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism as an "inspiration".

India has extended a $4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh even as the two countries today signed about 25 agreements to increase cooperation in various fields, including nuclear power and defence.

Though the two sides made a decision to take their ties to a newer level, they could not finalise the long-pending Teesta water-sharing agreement, primarily due to opposition to it by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was present during launch of new train and bus services between the two countries.

But Modi acknowledged the centrality of the Teesta pact that Hasina's opponents in Bangladesh have held up as the touchstone of her success with India and the critical support he needs from the Bengal chief minister to seal the deal.

Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

Before travelling in the same auto to the Maneckshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment to honour the families of Indian soldiers who took part in the Liberation War of 1971, Modi and Hasina signed agreements on a host of issues ranging from trade, civil nuclear energy, science and technology to financing for construction of 36 community clinics in Bangladesh.

"I now ask the two Prime Ministers to step down", Verma said, drawing guffaws from Hasina, who had to explain what had happened to a seemingly befuddled Modi, before the diplomat corrected himself.


"Along with our shared land boundaries are our shared rivers", Modi said while jointly addressing the media with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina following bilateral talks in Delhi. He said that 17 projects have been identified for utilisation of the new line of credit.

At an event to honour martyrs of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, he said there were three main ideologies in South Asia at present. "Prime Minister Modi reiterated that his government is working with all stakeholders in India for an early conclusion of the Agreement".

Train services connecting West Bengal and Bangladesh and bus services connecting Kolkata and Dhaka were also launched during the visit.

"The Liberation War was rejection of the mentality behind the massacre of thousands of innocent Bangladeshis", he added. “Increasing employment opportunities in the neighbouring countries to boosting economic climate remain part of our effort, ” he said.

"May I now request the two prime ministers to step down", said the Chief Protocol Officer.

The civil nuclear pacts included cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, one between the atomic energy boards of the two countries and another for a nuclear energy partnership. Earlier on Saturday, she was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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