India and Bangladesh leaders to meet for talks

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is to meet her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh as her first official visit to India gets under way.

The two neighbours are expected to sign a range of agreements including treaties on tackling cross-border crime and combating terrorism.

India has also pledged continued economic assistance to Bangladesh.

Ties between the two have improved after Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League-led government came to power last year.

Since then Bangladesh has cracked down on Indian separatist rebels sheltering in the country and handed over several senior rebel leaders to India.

Nearly 200 fighters belonging to rebel groups in Assam and Tripura have fled the crackdown in Bangladesh and some have already surrendered.

And ahead of the meeting between the two prime ministers, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that India was looking into the “entire range of developmental issues of direct interest to Bangladesh”.

This included economic assistance in developing railway infrastructure, transportation and investment and trade, she said.

“We seek to revive those physical and emotional links which remain disrupted since independence. We also seek their understanding and co-operation on our security and connectivity needs,” she said.