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Relations between India and Bangladesh enjoy our highest priority, Singh says

Indian PM Manmohan Singh's statement at joint media meeting with Prime Minister of Bangladesh:

Your Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
Distinguished Ministers,
Honourable Chief Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

I thank Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her very kind words of welcome. I also thank the government and people of Bangladesh for the gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements made for my visit to this beautiful country.

This is my second visit to Bangladesh as Prime Minister after 2005. I am deeply impressed by the changes that have taken place since then. The Bangladesh economy is doing well and the socio-economic transformation of Bangladesh is proceeding rapidly ahead.

Relations between India and Bangladesh enjoy our highest priority. There is a national consensus in India that India must develop the best possible relations with Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and I have had very wide-ranging and indepth discussions. These have built upon the momentum of the Prime Minister’s historic visit to India in 2010.

We have agreed on a new architecture for our partnership. This will open new vistas of bilateral cooperation, strengthen regional cooperation within South Asia and set an example of good neighbourly relations.

The Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and I have signed is a contemporary blueprint designed to encompass all forms and sectors of cooperation.

We have signed a Protocol to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974. With this, both our countries have now demarcated the entire land boundary as well as resolved the status of enclaves and adversely possessed areas.

As the Prime Minister has just announced, we have worked out 24-hour access to the enclaves of Dahagram-Angarpota through the Tin Bigha Corridor.

Our common rivers need not be sources of discord, but can become the harbingers of prosperity to both our countries.

We have decided to continue discussions to reach a mutually acceptable, fair and amicable arrangement for the sharing of the Teesta and Feni river waters.

India is fully alive to the problem of trade imbalance between India and Bangladesh. I am pleased to announce that, with immediate effect, we will provide duty free access to the Indian market to 46 textile tariff lines as requested by Bangladesh.

We have embarked on a series of measures to improve border infrastructure. These will facilitate Bangladesh’s exports to India and provide it greater opening to India and other neighbouring countries. We are addressing issues relating to non-tariff barriers together with Bangladesh.

India is committed to assisting Bangladesh in its development efforts. We will supply bulk power to Bangladesh by connecting our national grids. We will assist in the setting up of a 1320 megawatt joint venture power plant in Khulna.

Projects worth over 750 million US dollars under the 1 billion US dollar Line of Credit announced last year have been identified for implementation.

I conveyed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina India’s deep appreciation for the cooperation rendered by Bangladesh in our joint fight against terrorism and insurgency. This has brought much needed stability to both of us, and to this region as a whole.

India is a true and genuine partner of Bangladesh. We will do the utmost to build this relationship on a sustained basis, and I believe this also reflects the approach of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.

The several agreements that have been signed and the Joint Statement that is being issued reflect the richness and diversity of our cooperation. We now have to ensure that the fruits of our cooperation lead to improvement in the lives of our people.

I am overall extremely satisfied with my discussions today. I convey my very best wishes to the people of Bangladesh, and once again thank them for the warm welcome given to us.

Thank you.

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