Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his first foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak last year to Bangladesh during March 26-27, highlighting the priority attached by India to the country in its “Neighborhood First” policy. Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka later this month, officials of India and Bangladesh will be meeting in New Delhi to discuss issues related to river water sharing and flood forecast, today.

The Indian delegation will be represented by Pankaj Kumar, secretary in the Jal Shakti Ministry, while the Bangladeshi delegation will be headed by senior secretary Kabir Bin Anwar. India and Bangladesh are expected to discuss water sharing of Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dudhkumar and Dharla rivers. Flood forecasting is another area around which the discussions will take place. According to a PTI report, the officials may discuss a matter related to drawing water from Feni river for the Sabroom town in Tripura, and deliberate upon the possible signing of MoU regarding drawing water from the Suma river, besides other matters. 

Modi will be participating in the commemoration of what the Ministry of External Ministry described as  “three epochal events” – Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 50 years of diplomatic ties, and 50 years of Bangladesh’s war of liberation. Prime Minister last visited Bangladesh in 2015 though Modi and Hasina have interacted virtually several times during the pandemic.

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During the visit, Modi will attend the national day programme of Bangladesh on March 26 as the guest of honor and will also be holding bilateral consultations with Hasina as well as will hold talks with President Mohammad Abdul Hamid and foreign minister AK Abdul Momen. Both the countries have launched several initiatives amid the pandemic to boost connectivity, including a new cross-border bridge over Feni river that was opened earlier this month to make Agartala, the capital of the northeastern state of Tripura, the Indian city closest to an international sea port.

The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, “The visit of the prime minister to Bangladesh will be the first visit to a foreign country since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. This highlights the priority India attaches to Bangladesh”.  Bangladesh is the largest recipient of Indian-made Covid-19 vaccines, having received nine million doses so far, including two million doses provided as a grant in January. External affairs minister S Jaishankar travelled to Dhaka on March 4 to prepare the grounds for Modi’s visit. Jaishankar held talks with Momen and met Hasina, and the two foreign ministers reviewed the overall relationship and India-backed development projects.

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