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HASINA-MODI VIRTUAL MEETING LIKELY ON DECEMBER 17

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are likely to have a virtual meeting on December 17.

According to sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the chances of the virtual meeting between the two prime ministers taking place on December 17 are as much as 90%.

“The meeting is expected to be held on December 17, but I am not sure about the date yet,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Monday evening.

“Before the meeting, our foreign secretary is scheduled to visit Delhi, but he is ill now. I will tell you more in due time,” the foreign minister added.

During the virtual meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi, four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed.

“It is likely that as many as four MOUs will be signed during the virtual meet ... but the MOUs are yet to be finalized,” the foreign minister told BSS last week.

After the meeting, the foreign minister said, the two premiers may also inaugurate some projects that have already been completed under the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen is supposed to visit New Delhi before the prime minister-level talks for finalizing the agendas of the meeting.

Earlier in September, before the foreign minister-level 6th Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting, Dr Momen had hinted that some bilateral agreements might be signed during the next meet of the two prime ministers.

The last bilateral talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Premier Modi was held in New Delhi on October 5 last year.

The Indian premier was scheduled to visit this year to join the celebration of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but the trip was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The foreign minister said Dhaka had invited Narendra Modi to visit in person on March 26 to join the nation’s celebration of the 50 years of independence.

“We have invited him [Modi] and they accepted the invitation in principle,” he said.

Earlier, the newly appointed Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami assured that the virtual meeting of Hasina-Modi was not being considered as a substitute for in-person visit by the Indian prime minister to Bangladesh.

Currently, Bangladesh and India are enjoying excellent bilateral relations, termed "golden chapter" and "rock solid" by leaders of both the countries.

On several occasions, the Bangladesh foreign minister termed the Bangladesh-India ties as "blood relation." “Our development is India’s development . . . nothing can hinder this [Bangladesh-India] relation.”

On November 5, a MoU was signed between Serum Institute of India and Beximco Pharma of Bangladesh for priority delivery of 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh.

The two countries also established air connectivity under an "air bubble arrangement" amid the pandemic.