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Sushma Swaraj arrives in Dhaka on two-day visit, Teesta, LBA to be discussed

Dhaka/New Delhi, June 25 External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Wednesday evening arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit to Bangladesh, her first stand-alone foreign visit since taking over, that is part of the Narendra Modi government’s outreach to India’s neighbours.

The visit is expected to see two key outstanding issues taken up – the Teesta water sharing deal and the Land Boundary Agreement — both of which have been hanging fire.

Ahead of the visit, Sushma Swaraj called up West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee to brief her about the trip and as “preparations for the visit”.

The external affairs minister spoke to Banerjee Wednesday afternoon. The call assumes significance as the Trinamool Congress chief had refused to go ahead with the Teesta water sharing deal with Bangladesh in 2011.

Banerjee, whose party was then a part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, had backed out from being part of the delegation accompanying former prime minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh, causing embarrassment to the government.

The Indian delegation is expected to raise issues like illegal migration and market access.

Sushma Swaraj will be meeting her Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, and call on President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

She is also likely to meet opposition leaders, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief and former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

The bilateral talks between Sushma and her Bangladeshi counterpart would be held at the Foreign Ministry office in Dhaka Thursday morning, after which she would call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She will meet President Abdul Hamid at Bangabahban in the evening.

On Friday, she will meet Leader of Opposition Raushon Ershad.

On Thursday evening, the Indian external affairs minister will have an engagement with think tanks, chambers of commerce and industry and cultural organisations. She is to deliver a lecture on Bangladesh-India relations at an event to be organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

Though no major agreements are expected to be signed, the visit is expected to provide momentum to the close and friendly ties between the two neighbours.

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