Teesta, security on agenda | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 01, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:33 AM, February 01, 2016

Teesta, security on agenda

Foreign secretaries of Bangladesh, India meet in Delhi today

The much-delayed Teesta river water-sharing deal, security, transit and killing of Bangladeshis on the border are expected to be high on the agenda as the foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and India meet in New Delhi today.

The meeting between Bangladesh Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and his counterpart S Jaishankar is taking place under the ambit of annual foreign office consultations.

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The meeting will review the roadmap for India-Bangladesh ties as set out during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in June last year and his talks with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.

It will take stock of the progress in implementation of the decisions taken during Modi's visit in a range of areas, including transit, trade, to further boost bilateral relations, diplomatic sources in New Delhi said yesterday.

Besides meeting Jaishankar, Haque, who reached the Indian capital yesterday, will call on Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval during his three-day visit.

He is also likely to interact with the media at the Bangladesh high commission tomorrow morning.

For Bangladesh, the major issues to be flagged at the meeting will be another push and forward movement in working out the Teesta water-sharing deal, which has remained unrealised for years.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is against the agreement.

Although Mamata is widely expected to return to power through the upcoming elections for a second consecutive five-year term, she is unlikely to take any risk on signing the deal before the polls.

It is because she tries to consolidate her Trinamool Congress' base in northern part of West Bengal and shore up her overall political position.

The political and electoral calculus of Mamata will be a key factor on India's bilateral initiative on Teesta with Bangladesh, the sources said.

Bangladesh will also convey to India concerns over the killings of its nationals by Border Security Force along the border with India.

The two countries' figures regarding the number of killings differ. Bangladesh maintains it was 40 last year while India claims that it was 21 and most of the victims were cattle smugglers.

The foreign secretaries' meeting will also discuss ongoing development projects in Bangladesh with India's assistance and under the two billion dollar line of credit announced by Modi during his visit.

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