Indo-Bangla diplomacy to get a boost

Bangladesh and India are set for about two weeks of intense diplomatic activities, say officials.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni will be visiting Kolkata to receive the prestigious Mother Teresa International Award on Apr 29 while finance minister is set to meet his Indian counterpart at the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank annual meeting in Manila from May 2-5.

Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherkjee will travel to Dhaka from May 5-6 to take stalk of the joint prime ministerial statement of September last year.

Dipu Moni will travel to New Delhi to jointly chair the first Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) Meeting which was formed under the framework agreement on development and cooperation.

The JCC meeting will discuss a wide range of issues including water sharing, connectivity, border security and trade.

Mother Teresa Award

The foreign minister has won the award for social work and administration, said a source in the foreign ministry.

When asked if there was any possibility to meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the source said that since the foreign minister was visiting Mamata’s town and there was every possibility that their paths would cross at some point. “But there is no scheduled meeting so far.”

Bangladesh and India failed to strike an interim water sharing deal for the Teesta River during Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit last year due to Mamata Banerjee’s strong resistance.

ADB meeting

The 45th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank will begin in Manila and finance ministers of Bangladesh and India will be attending.

“They will meet on the sidelines where they might discuss economic and other issues,” said a foreign ministry official.

Economic issues have taken on a stronger significance with a growing Bangladesh-India bilateral trade. But it remains heavily tilted towards New Delhi’s favour.

In 2010-11, there was over $5 billion worth of bilateral trade in which Bangladesh’s exports of about $500 million accounted for only a tenth of the volume.

“This meeting is important as India opened up its market for Bangladeshi products in September last year and the neighbouring country is also providing $1 billion line of credit for different development projects including some connectivity projects,” he explained.

Bangladesh, has so far, submitted projects involving over $850 million and has started to receive Indian buses under the credit line.

Pranab visit

The Indian finance minister will come to Dhaka to attend the concluding session of Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary programme in Dhaka.

He would also discuss with relevant authorities about the implementation of the joint statement issued by the two prime ministers in September last year

He would also meet prime minister Sheikh Hasina during the visit.

JCC meeting

The commission was formed after Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka and this would the body’s first meeting.

“The JCC is an umbrella platform where any pending and forward looking issues can be discussed,” said the foreign ministry official.

The body’s predecessor, the joint economic commission, had its last meeting in 2003 where the then foreign ministers Morshed Khan and Jashwant Sinha presided