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Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina stresses on strengthening connectivity with India through 'Maitri Setu'

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Dhaka, Mar 09: Inter-regional trade is far-below its potential in South Asia and political boundaries should not become physical barriers, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday, as she stressed on strengthening connectivity with India through the historic "Maitri Setu" connecting the two countries.

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Prime Minister Hasina on Tuesday virtually inaugurated the 1.9-km "Maitri Setu" (Friendship Bridge) over Feni river along with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, connecting Tripura and Ramgarh in Bangladesh.

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"It's my immense pleasure to inaugurate the Maitri Setu today, together with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi," she said.

"We are in a region that has remained conservative in opening up and where inter-regional trade is far below its potential. I believe political boundaries should not become physical barriers to trade," Hasina said.

Terming it as a historic moment, Hasina said, "We're creating a new era in South Asia through providing connectivity to India. I think the Maitri Setu will not only create connectivity between our two countries, but will also play a significant role in business-trade and economic development."

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The bridge is a testimony to the Bangladesh government's continued commitment to support neighbouring India in strengthening connectivity in the region, particularly for the North-East of India, Hasina said during the inauguration of the bridge.

"The Feni Maitri Setu is expected to significantly improve the socio-economic condition of the people of Tripura and surrounding North Eastern states of India. We hope it will also contribute towards improving the livelihoods of those living on the Bangladesh side of the bridge," she was quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune.

Noting that Bangladesh's growth trajectory, along with its geographic location, makes it an extremely attractive neighbour in South Asia, Hasina said that the country being one of the leaders in the global textile industry, it has become a favoured destination for foreign investment.

The "Maitri Setu" is important to the business community of India's northeastern region for using the Chattogram seaport, bdnews 24 reported. The Government of Bangladesh has extended all necessary support to the Indian side for the construction of the bridge. Ten years later, today, the bridge is a reality, Hasina said.

Hasina said that the bridge will also help Bangladesh to trade more easily not only with India, but also with Nepal and Bhutan as well. Terming the bridge as a "trading lifeline" for the northeastern states of India, she said that Bangladesh has already opened the path for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for the movement of goods to and from India, according to the report.

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