Pranab to visit Bangladesh on Feb 8

Jan 18, 2009, 20:36 IST | PTI

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will discuss the entire gamut of bilateral issues, including terrorism, with Bangladeshi leaders during a two-day visit here from February 8, the first by a top Indian leader since the new government led by Sheikh Hasina came to power.

"He (Mukherjee) will be in Dhaka on a two-day visit and it is basically a goodwill tour after the installation of the new government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh," Foreign Secretary Mohammad Touhid Hossain told reporters here today.

He said Mukherjee would hold talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni and pay a courtesy call on Hasina.

Mukherjee would arrive in a special aircraft but the details of his itinerary was yet to be finalised and "we are yet to know who will accompany him," Hossain said.

He said the discussion between two sides was expected to touch upon all outstanding bilateral issues "but it is unlikely that they would go in detail on any of the issue in their first meeting".

The secretary, however, said some draft agreements, one being on protection of investments, remained pending for final inking which could be initialed during the visit. Hossain's comments came after Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty called on him at the foreign office to confirm the date of Mukehrjee's arrival.

Chakravarty earlier hinted that terrorism and transit issues would dominate Mukherjee's planned talks with the leaders of the new government in Bangladesh.

"There is no compromise on the issue of terrorism. We'll jointly move against the terrorists in the sub-continent," Chakravarty told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Law Minister Shafique Ahmed on Monday.

Hasina's Awami League in its election manifesto proposed formation of a South Asian Task Force for enhanced bilateral cooperation to fight terror discarding "mutual blame-gaming".

In her first appearance before the media after the landslide victory in the December 29 elections, Hasina said terrorism would be a priority in her government's foreign relation agenda.

Mukherjee's visit was to be the first by a senior Indian leader after the new government was installed after two years of emergency rule in Bangladesh under a non-party interim government with crucial military support.

New foreign Minister Dipu Moni last week said discussions with New Delhi would continue to resolve the outstanding issues while her ministry would prioritise the issue of maritime boundary dispute with India and Myanmar.

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