Swaraj's trip makes 'excellent beginning' for Indo-Bangla ties

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'excellent beginning
Dhaka/New Delhi, Jun 27: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today returned to New Delhi after her three-day "satisfying" visit during which India maintains that it along with Bangladesh have made an "excellent beginning" to address each other's concerns.

Swaraj, who undertook a first standalone foreign trip to Dhaka, held a series of meetings with top Bangladeshi leaders including President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her counterpart A H Mahmud Ali, Opposition leader Raushan Ershad and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who met the visiting leader in her hotel.

"Our assessment of the visit is...it was extremely fruitful and satisfying," the Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka ahead of her departure. He said that Swaraj is returning with an understanding that "it is an excellent beginning in addressing each others' concerns and work together with the spirit of good neighbourliness".

Earlier, Swaraj held a 30-minute meeting with Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Zia, who had boycotted the January 5 polls and accused that the Awami League government led by her arch-rival Hasina lacked people's mandate. Asked if India's engagement and with the incumbent government in Bangladesh would continue until its tenure till 2019, the Spokesperson said "governments work with governments and Indian government will work with Bangladeshi government".

"All other issues, internal to Bangladesh, will need to be addressed by the people of Bangladesh," he said apparently referring to Zia's allegations. Swaraj's last engagement in Dhaka was a 45-minute meeting with leader of the opposition Raushan of Jatiya Party at her office in parliament. Bangladesh's foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tarique A Karim saw Swaraj off at the VIP lounge of the airport.

Earlier on the day, Swaraj visited the Dhakeswari National Temple and held a meeting with Prime minister's international affairs adviser Professor Gowher Rizvi. During her meetings, Swaraj gave a commitment to address Bangladesh's concerns over sharing of Teesta waters and implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) "in a manner that improves the welfare and well-being of both our people".

She also handed over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's letter to Hasina in which he pledged to further strengthen the framework of ties. Modi, while thanking Hasina for her letter of felicitation on his assumption of office, also accepted her invitation to visit Bangladesh. He also extended an invitation to her to visit India at her earliest convenience. 

PTI

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