NEW DELHI, Dec 17 - India and Bangladesh have agreed for early fencing of the vulnerable patches of the international border to make those areas crime-free. The issue of border management figured at the virtual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday. At the summit, Modi and Hasina jointly inaugurated the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition. At least seven MoUs were signed between the two countries following the summit to further broadbase cooperation in varied sectors.
The issue of international border prone to illegal infiltration from Bangladesh to India figured at the summit, with both the leaders agreeing that loss of civilian lives at the border is a matter of concern. They directed their respective border forces to enhance coordinate measures to work towards bringing such border incidents to zero. The two leaders while stressing on the full implementation of the ongoing Coordinated Border Management Plan, agreed to facilitate completion of border fencing at all pending sectors of the international border at the earliest beginning from the Tripura sector of India-Bangladesh border.
Both sides also noted with satisfaction the recent stepped-up efforts of the two border guarding forces against smuggling of arms, narcotics and fake currency, and to prevent human trafficking, particularly of women and children.
Meanwhile, describing Bangladesh as a major pillar of India�s �Neighbourhood First� policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is his special priority to strengthen relations with the neighbouring country. In his opening remarks at the summit, Modi said from the very first day, strengthening and development of relations with Bangladesh has been a special priority for him.
�We reduced hurdles in land border trade, expanded connectivity between the two countries, and added new means. All this reflects our intentions to further strengthen our relationship,� Modi said.
A joint statement signed at the end of the summit said that both sides agreed to hold an early meeting of the Joint Boundary Conference to prepare a new set of strip maps along the stretch of Icchamati, Kalindi, Raimongol and the Hariabhanga rivers from the Main Pillar 1 to the Land Boundary terminus, with a view to finalising the delineation of the boundaries as fixed. It was also agreed to carry out necessary work to convert the international border along the Kuhsiyara river into a fixed boundary.
Recognising that terrorism remains a threat to global peace and security, both sides reiterated their strong commitment to eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Both sides emphasised simplifying people-to-people movement between the two countries. The Bangladesh side requested for early implementation of India�s commitment to remove remaining restrictions on entry and exit from land ports in India for Bangladeshis travelling on valid documents in a phased manner, beginning with checkpoints at Akhaura (Tripura) and Ghojadanga (West Bengal).
On connectivity, the two leaders noted the continued progress made towards the restoration of pre-1965 railway link between both the nations. They jointly inaugurated the newly restored railway link between Haldibari (India) and Chilahati (Bangladesh).
India reiterated its request to Bangladesh of having at least one land port with minimal negative list between the each neighbouring states of India and Bangladesh, beginning with Agartala-Akhaura. The Bangladesh side proposed that Bangladeshi trucks avail of the Feni bridge, once completed, for transportation of goods from Chattogram port to Northeast India.
Both the leaders also agreed to expeditiously operationalise trans-shipment of Indian goods through Chattogram and Mongla ports.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister expressed keen interest in the ongoing India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway project and sought support of India for enabling Bangladesh to connect with this project with a view to enhancing connectivity between the regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. In the same spirit, the Indian side requested Bangladesh to allow connectivity from West Bengal (Hill) to Meghalaya (Mahendraganj) via Bangladesh.