Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina's India visit uncertain: Report

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Dhaka, Sept 8: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's planned visit to India later this month has become uncertain as India "failed" to ensure signing of the Teesta water sharing deal and passage of the land boundary agreement, media here reported today.

According to diplomatic sources, Hasina's second bilateral visit "will be fruitless because India has nothing to offer though she has addressed India's major concerns and created an opportunity to take the relationship to the next level".

The mass circulation 'Daily Star' newspaper quoting the sources said Hasina might cancel her New Delhi tour as "India failed to ensure signing of the (much expected) Teesta water sharing deal and passage of the land boundary agreement (LBA) in parliament". The report said any prime ministerial visit aims for some deliverables, and to Hasina, those two are the most important issues to be settled.

Bangladesh Foreign Ministry officials earlier said the premier was likely to visit New Delhi later this month on an invitation from her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. But a senior Ministry official said she planned to accept the invitation at that time, expecting that India would be able to settle the issues by September, which now appears unlikely.

The Star report, however, said New Delhi and Dhaka were now discussing possibilities of a meeting of the two premiers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month, "aiming to mitigate diplomatic fallout of Indian government's failure to ratify the LBA and sign the Teesta deal electorally vital for the Awami-League government".

The premier's international affairs adviser Gawher Rizvi earlier told PTI that he feared the negative impact of the failure to ink particularly the promised Teesta deal could reignite in Bangladesh the "popular suspicions" against India. He said such a situation could cause a backlash against Bangladesh's incumbent government, known to be friendly to New Delhi, and slowdown the progress of connectivity.

Bangladesh and India were set to ink the deal during Prime Minister Singh's Dhaka tour in September 2011 but it was opposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who said the proposed quantum of waters would harm her state. Singh and Hasina at that time, however, signed the LBA formalising a 1974 treaty inked for exchange of enclaves which was expected to be ratified subsequently by the Indian parliament. But the Indian Parliament is yet to ratify it.


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