New Delhi, Jul 4: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Bangladesh on September six and seven in a trip that is expected to mark a “new beginning” in bilateral ties as some crucial issues like border demarcation and exchange of enclaves are likely to be resolved.
This will be the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Bangladesh in 12 years, although there have been a number of trips to the neighbouring country for multilateral events.
Announcing the two-day trip, an official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said today Prime Minister Singh will be on an official visit to Bangladesh on September six and seven at the invitation of its Premier Sheikh Hasina.
The official announcement of dates came just four days after Singh's comments that 25 percent Bangladeshis were anti-Indian.
During an interaction with a group of Editors last week, Singh had said that with “...Bangladesh, our relations are quite good. But we must reckon that at least 25 percent of the population of Bangladesh swear by the Jamiat-ul-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI.”
The remarks were intended to be off the record but figured in the official transcript of the interaction between the Prime Minister and the Editors. The remarks were later deleted from the official transcript.
Sources said efforts are being made to ensure that the visit is a huge success and mark a “new beginning” in the bilateral relations though “challenges and obstacles” remain.
The two sides are working on agreements in a number of critical and sensitive areas which include settlement of the border issue by demarcating it afresh and also Teesta river water sharing, they said.
Prime Minister Singh's comments on Bangladesh had sparked strong reactions from political parties in that country.
Ahead of Singh's visit, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will visit Bangladesh from July 6, during which he is expected to raise key regional and bilateral issues with the leadership of that country.
Sources said the survey of the border is underway, hoping the vexed and long-pending issue would be addressed by the time Singh travels to Dhaka.
Along side, progress is being made on the issue of enclaves which are to be exchanged. India has 92 enclaves of Bangladesh while 110 of its own are in Bangladesh. Head count of the people living in these enclaves is in progress and information is being collected about various other aspects related to them.
Efforts are also underway to settle the issue of ‘adverse possession' of enclaves. Bangladesh holds 226.81 acres of Indian land as ‘adverse possession' while 551.8 acres of Bangladesh land is in ‘adverse possession' of India.
In the run up to the visit, the two countries are making an endeavour to implement the objectives contained in the joint statement issued after the visit of Prime Minister Hasina here in January last year.
During that visit, India had announced a one billion dollar Line of Credit to Bangladesh. PTI