Salman Khurshid in Dhaka for JCC meet

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is due in Dhaka Saturday on a two-day visit to attend a second meeting to review a whole range of bilateral issues between the two countries.

The India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting will also discuss pending issues like Teesta water sharing agreement and ratification of the land boundary agreement that both the governments have hinted on several occasions to finalise before their tenures end within a year.

The two-day visit will also kick off the groundwork for Indian President Pranab Mukharjee’s March first-week visit to Bangladesh when the government will honour him for his support during the 1971 Liberation War.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the JCC meeting will also review the progress of bilateral cooperation in the fields of businesses and trade, connectivity, power, water resources, security, border management, infrastructure, people to people contacts, culture, environment and education.

Khurshid will also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and meet the Home Minister and the Water Resources Minister during his maiden visit as the Foreign Minister.

He had earlier visited Bangladesh in May 2012 as the Minister for Law, Justice and Minority Affairs to attend the joint celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the “Bidrohi” of Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The joint commission was established under the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development signed by the two prime ministers on Sep 6, 2011.

The first meeting of the JCC was held in New Delhi on May 7, 2012.

According to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the visit is in ‘keeping with the tradition of high-level exchanges between India and Bangladesh that have contributed to the deepening and strengthening of our bilateral relations’.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had made a visit to India in Jan 2010, a year after assuming power. Her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh returned the visit in Sep 2011 when signing of a number of deals kicked off a new beginning in the bilateral relationship between the two neighbours that share a 4,000km border, 50 rivers and a common delta.

India and Bangladesh also signed $1 billion credit agreement including $200 million grants for different projects, mostly related to the railways and infrastructure development, in Aug 2010. This was the highest loan that India has so far committed to any country.

But still issues like Teesta water sharing deal and ratification of land boundary agreement remain unresolved, which officials believe could be settled this year with the visit of Indian President followed by Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India, during which the river water deal is likely to be signed.

The India’s Union Cabinet Wednesday cleared the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill, required to ratify its 1974 Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, to be tabled it in the upcoming session of parliament.

Pranab Mukherjee and All India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi reportedly told Hasina’s daughter Saima Hossain Putul during ‘courtesy calls’ in New Delhi recently that India intended to sign the Teesta deal within this year.

India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Feb 10 during his visit to Dhaka also reiterated that India was ‘unwavering’ in its commitment to ink the deal in the shortest possible

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