India, Bangladesh ties get a 7-pact boost

New Delhi, Sep 6 (EFE).- India and Bangladesh inked seven agreements on Tuesday to strengthen their cooperation across sectors and reiterated their commitment to long-awaited comprehensive trade partnership and river water sharing pacts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accorded a warm welcome to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, who arrived in India on Monday for a four-day visit to boost bilateral ties.

The two leaders discussed cooperation in connectivity, energy, food security, and trade between the South Asian neighbors.

Modi said trade between the two countries had rapidly increased over the years.

“We have decided to extend cooperation in the IT, space and nuclear sectors,” Modi told reporters in a joint press conference with Hasina.

“Across Asia, India is the biggest market for exports from Bangladesh. To further expedite this progress, we will soon initiate discussions on a bilateral comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA),” Modi said.

The two countries have been trying to reach a free trade agreement to strengthen economic ties and close gaps in commerce.

The pact-in-waiting will significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between India and Bangladesh.

Hasina praised Modi’s efforts in strengthening ties between the two neighbors.

She said as long as he is around, they would find a solution to all bilateral problems, including those that have hindered any progress on water sharing of the Teesta River – one of the most crucial bilateral issues.

Negotiations on sharing the river waters have made limited progress in nearly three decades.

Hasina hoped that the two sides would eventually advance talks on sharing the waters of the transboundary river that begins in India and flows into Bangladesh.

“(We) have achieved remarkable progress in a number of areas. (I) hope that all outstanding issues including the Teesta water-sharing treaty would be concluded at an early date.”

During his visit to Bangladesh last year, Modi reiterated India’s commitment to conclude the stalemated pact.

On Tuesday, the two sides signed pacts on water sharing on the Kushiyara river.

Modi recalled that 54 rivers that flow through India and Bangladesh were linked to the livelihood of people in both countries.

“Today, we have signed an important agreement regarding water-sharing of Kushiyara River,” Modi said.

They also signed agreements on training and IT cooperation in railways, scientific and industrial research, space, and media partnership.

On Monday, the Bangladeshi prime minister met with Indian industrialist Gautam Adani.

She spoke with India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

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