Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today suggested a joint exercise by the disaster management forces of South Asian countries for a joint response to natural calamities as he held talks with visiting Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina.
Hasina, who was on a day-long visit to attend the cremation of Suvra Mukherjee, the wife of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, welcomed Modi’s suggestion as the two leaders met for about half an hour at the official residence of the Indian PM, Hasina’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters.
Modi’s idea of a joint exercise of South Asian Disaster Management forces assumes significance in view of the fact that the region is one of the world’s poorest areas and most vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquake, cyclone, tsunami and floods, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Soon after assuming power in May last year, Modi, it may be recalled, had suggested the launch of a SAARC satellite to help weather forecast and education and tele-medicine networks among South Asian countries. The satellite being developed by Indian Space Research Organization is expected to be launched in December next year.
Hasina, for her part, said India and Bangladesh themselves together constitute a large market and the countries should try to tap this cumulative market more rather than looking elsewhere, Karim said.
Both Hasina and Modi expressed satisfaction over smooth implementation of the historic land boundary agreement with the Indian PM saying this served as an example for the entire world, according to Karim.
Hasina told Modi that the LBA implementation, particularly the exchange of enclaves by Bangladesh and India, took place in a “festive atmosphere”, and thanked the Indian PM for this.
Modi and Hasina also welcomed the proposal for Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) transport connectivity facilitating seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the four countries and agreed to expedite the project.
Modi recalled his visit to the Bangabandhu Museum at 32 Dhanmondi in Dhaka on June 6 this year and offered India’s technical assistance to digitalise and modernise the Museum.
Hasina was accompanied at the talks with Modi by her sister Sheikh Rehana, daughter Saima Wajed, Foreign Minister AH Mahmud Ali and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali among others.
On the Indian side, Modi was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar among others.
Earlier, Hasina, who was received at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on her arrival from Dhaka by a special flight, drove straight to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of Pranab Mukherjee, and offered condolences to the Indian president on the demise of his wife.
From Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee and Hasina drove in the Indian President’s vehicle to nearby house of Mukherjee’s lawmaker-son Abhijit Mukherjee at Talkatora Road where she placed a wreath on the casket containing the mortal remains of Shuvra who died in Army Research and Referral Hospital on Tuesday morning.
Suvra, 74, was admitted to the hospital on August 7 after she complained of breathlessness and discomfort. Since then she had been in the Intensive Care Unit.
Besides her husband, Suvra left behind two sons – Abhijit, a Congress MP, and Indrajit, and daughter Sharmistha.