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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

….Now the saree diplomacy between India and Bangladesh

By Malladi Rama Rao
New Delhi, 28 June (

It is time for saree diplomacy in the South Asian region. What started of as a one –off affair a month ago between India and Pakistan, has now reached Dhaka marking the first stand alone foreign visit of Sushma Swaraj, the Indian External Affairs Minister.

Former premier Khaleda Zia presented two Jamdani sarees to Swaraj at her 30-minute meeting (one of the sarees was a gift for the visiting minister’s daughter) on Friday. The Indian officials have described the Zia-Swaraj meeting as Delhi’s effort to reach out to all sections of Bangladesh society. .

On Thursday the Indian minister met Prime Minister Sheik Hasina and presented a cream-coloured saree. In return Hasina gifted her famous Bangladeshi Jamdani saree.

The credit for initiating the new diplomacy goes to Prime Minister Modi. He presented a shawl to Nawaz Sharif’s mother and personally handed it over to the Pakistani leader when they met a day after he took his oath as Indian premier last month. On his return home, Sharif sent a white saree for Modi’s mother.

Sushma Swaraj has described her three-day visit to Bangladesh as a very ''fruitful and successful''; she held wide ranging discussions with her Bangladeshi counterpart AH Mahmood Ali and met Prime Minister Hasina and President Abdul Hamid besides former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Prime Minister's Foreign Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi. Her last engagement in Dhaka was a 45-minute meeting with Raushan Ershad of Jatiya Party, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

Swaraj handed over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's letter to Hasina; in the letter, Modi thanked her for her felicitations and expressed his desire to work together to ''ignite collective surge to prosperity'' in South Asia

A talking point for Swaraj was India’s decision to relax visa norms for minors and senior citizens, and to supply to additional 100 MW power from Tripura.

Bangladeshi nationals below 13 and above 65 years of age will be eligible for five-year multiple entry visas under the new regime; at present multiple entry visa is valid for one –year.

The additional 100 MW power would be supplied on the newly opened power-grid connection between both countries from the Palatana project in Tripura.

Her two other talking points were the Land Border Agreement (LBA) which has been vetoed by Assam government as well as the local Assamese unit of BJP and the proposed Teesta water sharing agreement that has been vetoed by Mamata Bannerjee government in Kolkata.

Sushma Swaraj counselled her hosts to be patient saying that Modi government was trying to build a national consensus over the two issues. Increase in the frequency of Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express and introduction of a bus service on the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati route figured in the talks.

In the Sushma Swaraj- Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali talks covered Bangladeshi request for extradition of Nur Hossain, wanted in connection with the killing seven people in Dhaka
“We are not sanctuary for criminals” and if there are any criminals, they will be sent back, Indian foreign office spokesman told reporters after the meeting.

India and Bangladesh have in place an extradition treaty; it was signed last year.

Sushma Swaraj rounded off her two-day visit to Dhaka with puja at the Dhakeswari National Temple.

Border Talks

Coinciding with Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Bangladesh, border guards of the two countries met near Siliguri on June 25 and started their three-day long border coordination conference.

The focus of the meet was ways and means of stepping up vigil along the porous border to check crimes like smuggling of fake currencies, and cattle.

- Asian Tribune -

….Now the saree diplomacy between India and Bangladesh
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