India, Bangladesh jointly open Chilahati-Haldibari rail route, reiterate to eliminate terrorism

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NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh on Thursday reiterated their strong commitment to eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday held a virtual summit, during which they jointly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari rail route, linking the two neighbouring countries. According to a joint statement, both sides held comprehensive discussions on all aspects of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
“Recognizing 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,” read the statement. The Chilahati-Haldibari rail link was last operational in 1965. Upgrade of the old lines were carried out before the inauguration.
PM Modi and Hasina expressed satisfaction over the current state of the bilateral relations based on “shared bonds of history, culture, language, and other unique commonalities that characterise the partnership”.
“They emphasised that relations between Bangladesh and India are based on fraternal ties and reflective of an all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding that transcend a strategic partnership,” the statement read.
They paid tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War of Bangladesh, the Muktijoddhas and the Indian soldiers, for their sacrifices in 1971. “They vowed to uphold and protect the cherished values of democracy and equality in line with the aspirations of the people of the two friendly countries,” it added.
The two sides signed seven Memoranda of Understanding, including on hydrocarbon sector.
According to the joint statement, the two leaders welcomed the signing of the Framework of Understanding on Cooperation in the Hydrocarbon Sector, which would further augment energy linkages by streamlining investments, technology transfer, joint studies, training and promoting hydrocarbon connectivity.

WEST BENGAL Rail services between Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in Bangladesh resumed on Thursday, after a gap of 55 years in Coochbehar. (ANI Photo)

BD-major pillar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the inauguration of a summit level talks held virtually on Thursday; “Bangladesh is a major pillar of our ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and it has been a special priority for me from Day 1 to strengthen our relations with Bangladesh. Today I pay my respect to the martyrs of our both sides who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war, when the anti-liberation forces were defeated by us”, said Mr. Modi in Hindi. He greeted Bangladesh on the occasion of centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

A joint statement issued at the end of the summit said that the filming of a biopic on Bangabandhu would begin under the direction of Shyam Benegal in January 2021.

The document also pledged to name the road from Mujib Nagar to West Bengal’s Nadia as “Shadhinota Shorok”. It was in Mujib Nagar that a government in exile was formed in 1971.

Mr. Modi accepted an invitation from Dhaka to be present at the 50th anniversary of independence of Bangladesh in March. He reiterated that removal of obstacles to land connectivity and growing trade had changed the texture of India-Bangladesh relationship.

Seven agreements

The two sides also concluded seven agreements covering areas such as hydrocarbon, High Impact Community Development Projects, elephant conservation, solid waste management, agriculture, and terms of reference of the India-Bangladesh CEOs forum. A pact between the National Museum of India and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum in Dhaka was also declared.