Sushma Swaraj due today 15-year deal to be signed to import gasoil from India

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shosama_shoraj_61285_1508627101Dhaka: In the midst of Rohingya crisis, Dhaka receives today Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who, during her two-day trip, is expected to discuss the entire range of bilateral and regional of issues of mutual interest with the leadership of the country. The visit of the one of the most powerful political figures of India, Bangladesh’s first neighbour, is viewed by Dhaka as very important for a variety of reasons, especially with regard to its role on Rohingya crisis, according to sources concerned. Bangladesh will reiterate to the Indian minister of its expectation of unwavering support in dealing with Rohingya crisis, they said, adding that Dhaka is set to emphasise on visible Indian move to resolve this

protracted crisis given its influence over Myanmar. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to mention the plight of Rohingyas during his visit to Myanmar in the first week of September created a negative perception about India in the country, said the sources.

Although India ‘tried to do the damage control later by repeatedly expressing support for Bangladesh on this issue and sending relief, doubt still remains among the minds of many if India really means when it says Bangladesh is one of its best friends’, they said.

“We have done a great deal for India. Now, It is India’s turn to reciprocate in order to silence the doubters,” a source said.

To a question, he said, “The issue relating to Indian move to deport Rohingyas living in that country may also come up for discussions. And, Bangladesh might have some specific suggestions for the Indians to help on the Rohingya crisis.”

And, they said that though ‘unfortunate’, India’s ‘say’ on Bangladesh’s domestic affairs carries ‘significance’ to many like it did prior and after the national election in January, 2014 that was ‘criticised’ by the west, but ‘supported’ by Delhi.

Albeit, the Indian external affairs minister is coming to Dhaka to co-chair with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali the fourth meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), a bilateral platform that deals with all the bilateral aspects of the relationship. It is widely anticipated that her discussions with the country’s leadership are all but certain to feature political matters, said the sources.

While in Dhaka, apart from co-chairing the JCC meeting, she will have meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, they said.

Besides, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation will sign a 15-year deal with Indian oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) to import gasoil from India during the visit, said the sources.

The sales and purchase deal with India supplying 250,000 tonnes of gasoil each year is going to be the country’s first long-term arrangement with any Indian supplier, they said.

The deal will come into effect after the construction of a 131-km (79 miles) pipeline by India, they added.

Furthermore, according to Indian media, Sushma Swaraj is expected to inaugurate 15 projects financed by Delhi under the line of credit.

As far as the JCC meeting, to be held today at a local hotel, is concerned, the sources said that the meeting will review the existing relations and explore further avenues of cooperation.

The meeting will also evaluate the decisions taken and deals signed during Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to India in April, this year and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June, 2015, they said.

The top of the priorities for the Bangladesh side will include the signing of long overdue Teesta water sharing agreement, border killing and reducing huge trade deficit, said the sources.

Besides, they added that the cooperation in the fields including sharing of waters of common rivers, connectivity, energy and power and security will be discussed in details.

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