Connectivity to be focus of Modi-Hasina virtual summit on Thursday

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New Delhi, Dec 16 (PTI) India and Bangladesh are expected to restore a trans-border railway line after 55 years, and ink a number of agreements at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday, people familiar with the developments said.

The inauguration of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link is expected to enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh.

The two prime ministers are also expected to release a commemorative stamp on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to commemorate the birth centenary of the father of the nation of Bangladesh.

Modi and Hasina are set to jointly inaugurate a digital exhibition on Mujibur Rahman and Mahatma Gandhi in an effort to celebrate the life and legacies of the iconic leaders, the people familiar with the developments said.

They said around five agreements are expected to be inked during the summit talks.

India and Bangladesh have been making efforts in the last few years to enhance transport and connectivity.

The inauguration of the Haldibari-Chilahati link will be the fifth pre-1965 railway link to be made operational between the two countries.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was part of the broad gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links. Initially, the rail link will facilitate the movement of goods cargo. Passenger movement will also commence on the development of infrastructure on both sides, they said.

On Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs said talks between Modi and Hasina will also focus on further strengthening cooperation in the post COVID-19 period.

'During the summit, the two leaders will hold comprehensive discussions on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship, including further strengthening cooperation in the post COVID era,' the MEA said.

It said both the countries have continued to maintain regular exchanges at the highest level.

The ties between India and Bangladesh have witnessed a significant upswing in the last few years. Both sides have scaled up trade and economic engagement besides implementing a number of connectivity and infrastructure projects. PTI MPB ANB ANB