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India, Dhaka focus on space, maritime ties

India, Dhaka focus on space, maritime ties

PM Modi with Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi. TRIBUNE PHOTO



Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, June 22

Following talks between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, India said it would help Bangladesh launch a mini satellite, considered a project of national importance for Dhaka, and introduce an e-medical visa facility to ease the travel woes of an estimated 26 lakh Bangladeshis who come here for treatment every year.

India had earlier lost out the opportunity to launch Bangladesh’s first satellite as it was deemed too heavy for ISRO’s rockets. It was instead launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. In 2022, India had launched a mini satellite developed jointly with Bhutan.

PM Modi said the “India-Bangladesh Maitree Satellite” will give a new dimension to bilateral cooperation. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the visit was part of sustained high-level political engagement between the two countries.

The two agreements were among the 10 MoUs signed following talks between Hasina and Modi here. The talks covered a range of areas of bilateral cooperation, including development partnership, energy, water resources, trade and defence cooperation.

The launch of the satellite will add to the large number of visibly important projects that Hasina has undertaken or is planning with help from India, Russia and China due to her estrangement with the US. Other projects in this category include the Rooppur nuclear power plant, a bridge over the Padma river, underwater tunnel in Chittagong and a deep sea port and metro rail in Dhaka. The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre and Bangladesh’s Ministry of Telecommunication and IT will collaborate on the joint small satellite project.

Of the 10 MoUs, seven are new. These include MoUs on blue economy and maritime cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and India Ocean Region and joint research on oceanography of the Indian Ocean and capacity building.

This is Hasina’s second visit to India in less than two weeks as she attended the swearing-in ceremony of PM Narendra Modi on June 9. In his remarks, PM Modi said though they had met on several occasions over the past year, this meeting was special as Hasina was the first state guest in the NDA government’s third tenure.

Hasina also addressed businessmen at the CII and called on President Droupadi Murmu and Vice- President Jagdeep Dhankhar before leaving for Dhaka.

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