India’s Foreign Secretary in Dhaka

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai arrived in Dhaka on Saturday on a three-day official visit to discuss bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest at a foreign secretary-level meeting.

Bangladesh’s Acting Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told that they would hold meeting on Sunday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 “We will discuss all aspects of bilateral issues at the foreign secretary level meeting. There will be a media briefing after the meetings,” he said.

The visit, however, will also lay the groundwork for India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid who is expected to come to Dhaka on Feb 16 to attend the Joint Consultative Commission meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni.

According to an Indian High Commission media release, during the visit, Mathia will also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, LGRD minister and ruling Awami League’s General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, Finance Minister A M A Muhith, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Railways Minister Md. Mazibul Hoque and Prime Minister’s Adviser Gowher Rizvi.

It said foreign secretary Mathai is India’s senior most diplomat and in that capacity the chief foreign policy adviser to the government of India.

The relationship between India and Bangladesh has been seen improving with many reciprocal visits including premier’s of the both countries.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni on the India’s Republic Day last month said her government could ‘regenerate trust’ during the last four years based on which she said the relationship had ‘markedly improved’.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a visit to India in Jan 2010, a year after assuming power.

Her counterpart Manmohan Singh, in return, came to Bangladesh in Sep 2011 when signing a number of deals kicked off a new beginning of the relationship between the two neighbours that share a 4000-kilometre border, 50 rivers and a common delta.

India and Bangladesh have also signed $1 billion credit agreement for 20 identified projects, mostly related to railway and infrastructure development, in Aug 2010 which is the highest loan that India has so far committed to any country.

But still issues like much-coveted Tessta water sharing deal remained unresolved that officials believe could be settled in this year, the final year of both Hasina and Singh government.

India’s president Pranab Mukherjee is expected to visit Bangladesh in March while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may visit India in August.

This is Mathai’s first bilateral visit to Bangladesh as Foreign Secretary, and follows the last visit of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to Bangladesh in Jun

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