India’s PM Visits Bangladesh

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 5:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh begins a two-day visit to Bangladesh Tuesday aimed at improving bilateral relations.

It is the first such visit by an Indian leader to the neighboring country since 1999. Mr. Singh is due to hold talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, on a wide range of issues.

Indian officials say the trip is likely to produce agreements to give India expanded access to two major Bangladeshi ports for shipping and export and to improve transportation links and trade. Proposals to swap disputed enclaves along parts of the Indian-Bangladeshi border are also expected to be on the agenda.

But a major water-sharing deal may be off the table for the moment due to opposition from the chief minister of West Bengal, the Indian state bordering Bangladesh. Mamata Banerjee is reportedly dissatisfied with the terms of the treaty to share water from the Teesta River that runs between the two countries.

India has 111 enclaves within Bangladesh totaling close to 7,000 hectares of land. Bangladesh has 51 enclaves, or 2,800 hectares of land, in India.

Ahead of Mr. Singh's visit to Dhaka, India has approved a $750 million loan to Bangladesh to develop ports, railways and other infrastructure.

Bangladeshi economic relations division chief Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the Indian government approved the disbursement of the money as part of a 2010 agreement offering Bangladesh a $1 billion credit line.