Range of pacts to be inked during PM Modi's Bangladesh visit: Shringla

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New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) A range of pacts will be signed and new announcements for bolstering cooperation in several areas will be made during the two-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh from Friday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.

Modi will also visit the mausoleum of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Gopalganj district, the first Indian dignitary to ever visit the place, Shringla said.

It will be the Prime Minister's first visit to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

'This visit will be of very special significance and will serve to highlight the celebration of our unique and special ties which reinforce our comprehensive strategic partnership with Bangladesh,' Shringla said at a media briefing.

Asserting that Bangladesh is at the 'intersection' of India's 'Neighborhood First' and 'Act East' polices, the foreign secretary said it was a 'momentus time' in bilateral ties.

Modi's visit is taking 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. The two countries are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

'As a reflection of growing cooperation, both sides will be signing a range of agreements during the prime minister's visit. These agreements will cover a number of areas of our cooperation,' Shringla said.

He said some of the areas where agreements will be inked are disaster management, trade and oceanography.

There will be new announcements of cooperation in areas of culture, preservation of spirit of 1971, health railways, education, border development, power cooperation and start-ups, he added.

During his visit, Modi will call on President of Bangladesh Md Abdul Hamid and will hold restricted and delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Prime Minister will also interact with diverse groups of Bangladesh's polity and society which will include the representatives of the country's ruling 14- party alliance, the opposition party, freedom fighters, community leaders and youth icons, Shringla said.

'Bangladesh is at the intersection of our Neighborhood First and Act East polices. Today it is our largest development partner, our largest trade partner in the region and is the location of our largest visa operation in the world,' the foreign secretary said.

The Prime Minister will also attend Bangladesh's national day celebrations on March 26 and will deliver an address on the occasion at the parade ground in Dhaka, he added.

Modi is also scheduled to visit the 'National Martyrs' Memorial' located in Savar. The memorial was set up in honour of those who died in the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.

'Both Prime Ministers will also inaugurate the Bongobandhu-Bapu exhibition in Dhaka that will showcase the life and legacies of the two great leaders,' said Shringla.

'Considering the significance of historic Mujib Borso, the Prime Minister will visit Bongobandhu mausoleum complex at Tungipara of Gopalganj district and he will be the first Indian dignitary to ever visit Tungipara which many of us known as family home of Rahman,' he said.

Shringla said the prime minister will also visit heritage sites in Satkhira and Orakandi.

The two Prime Ministers held a virtual summit on December 17 during which Modi said Bangladesh is a key pillar of New Delhi's 'Neighbourhood First' policy, while Hasina described India as a 'true friend' and asserted that both countries could play a significant role in the global and regional value chains by further integrating their economies as well as boosting connectivity.

During the summit, the two countries inked seven agreements to further broadbase cooperation in a plethora of sectors, and restored a cross-border rail link snapped by the 1965 war with Pakistan. PTI MPB PYK PYK