Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his visit to Bangladesh by signing five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
Modi was on a two-day visit to Bangladesh to attend the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. This was his first travel abroad since the outbreak of COVID-19.
A joint statement was issued after a meeting between Modi and Hasina in Dhaka on Saturday. Their "tete-a-tete" was followed by delegation-level talks, reports said.
"Both the talks were marked by great warmth and cordiality. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations, based on deep historical and fraternal ties, which reflect an all-encompassing bilateral partnership based on equality, trust and understanding that transcends even a strategic partnership," the statement said.
It said that the two leaders agreed on the need for removing non-tariff barriers to enhance bilateral trade, and for greater cooperation in energy and connectivity.
They also emphasised on a "speedy" conclusion of the study on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the statement added.
Bangladesh sought Indian investment in jute mills and expressed willingness to join the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project.
"To enhance trade between the two countries, both prime ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers," the joint statement said. "Further, for bilateral trade to flourish, both leaders stressed the need for predictability of trade policies, regulations and procedures."
Terming it a "productive meeting", Modi said that they also reviewed the full range of their strategic bilateral ties and discussed ways to further deepen the economic and cultural linkages.
India and Bangladesh also discussed the Rohingya refugees issue, with India stating its willingness to facilitate a "safe, speedy, and sustainable" return of the refugees to Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Modi reiterates efforts to conclude Teesta pact
One of the major points of discussion was reportedly the pending Teesta water-sharing agreement. While Modi reiterated India's "sincere and continued efforts" to conclude the agreement, Hasina emphasised on the need for a quick resolution to the matter, The Times of India reported.
The report quoted foreign secretary Harsh Shringla as saying that "India also requested Bangladesh for the early finalisation of the draft of the interim agreement for sharing of Feni river water".
The two leaders also directed their respective ministries of water resources to work towards an early conclusion of the Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six common rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar, the joint statement said.
Additionally, both leaders emphasised the importance of effective border management for ensuring a tranquil, stable and crime free border.
India, Bangladesh sigh five MoUs on connectivity, IT
The five MoUs between India and Bangladesh cover topics like connectivity, commerce, information technology and sports.
"The visit symbolised the partnership of half-a-century between India and Bangladesh that has strengthened, matured and evolved as a model for bilateral relations for the entire region," the joint statement added.
"Recognising that terrorism remains a threat to global peace and security, both sides reiterated their strong commitment to eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," the statement said.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said that the two leaders discussed the progress achieved in areas of health, trade, connectivity, energy, developmental cooperation and others.
Modi handed over a representational key of 109 ambulances to Hasina. He also handed over a representational box as a symbol of India's gift of 1.2 million COVID vaccine doses to Bangladesh.
The two leaders also jointly inaugurated several projects virtually, including opening three new border haats on India-Bangladesh borders and inaugurating a new passenger train 'Mitali Express' connecting Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri on the Indian side.
This is the third passenger train after Maitree Express (Dhaka-Kolkata) and Bandhan Express (Khulna-Kolkata) running between the two countries.
The other projects included: The foundation-stone of a monument at Bangladesh's Ashuganj in memory of 1971 martyred Indian soldiers, extended development work at Rabindra Bhawan in Kuthibari and ground breaking for Infrastructure Development for Power Evacuation Facilities of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.
The MoUs signed were on disaster management, resilience and mitigation, cooperation between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps and National Cadet Corps, and establishment of a Framework of Cooperation in the Area of Trade Remedial Measures.
Modi and Hasina also released India-Bangladesh Friendship stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations.
Modi's visit took place at a time Bangladesh is commemorating Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the country's War of Liberation.
On Friday, Modi attended the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the country's independence and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu' in Dhaka.
Modi offered prayers at the Jeshoreshwari Kali temple in Ishwaripur village on Saturday and announced that India will construct a community hall and cyclone shelter attached to the temple. He visited the mausoleum of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and paid floral tributes to him.
Modi also offered prayers at a Matua temple in Orakandi, the birthplace of Hindu mystic figure and Matua community's spiritual guru Harichand Thakur.
Speaking to the Matua community members, he said both India and Bangladesh want stability, love and peace instead of instability, terror and unrest in the world.
Modi also called on Bangladesh president Md. Abdul Hamid, and extended an invitation to Hasina to visit India in 2022.
Modi thanked the people of Bangladesh for their affection during his visit. "I am sure this visit will lead to further strengthening of bilateral ties between our nations," the prime minister tweeted.
With inputs from PTI