Mamata Banerjee to join Narendra Modi during Bangladesh visit

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day official visit to Bangladesh beginning on June 6, a state minister said here on Thursday.

"West Bengal chief minister is visiting Dhaka on June 6," said Bengal's Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee. Banerjee would be present when the two countries ink the much-awaited Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).

"The chief minister is visiting Dhaka for the signing of the Land Boundary Agreement. Hope it will cement the ties of India and Bangladesh further," said Chatterjee. Modi's visit, his first to Bangladesh after taking as prime minister over a year ago, is at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.


Mamata Banerjee

Apart from the signing of the LBA, the two leaders are likely to discuss the stalled Teesta water-sharing issue. Addressing newspersons in Kolkata recently, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said the Teesta water-sharing accord would be finalised soon.

He had voiced confidence in getting support from Mamata Banerjee, who had blocked the water sharing deal four years ago. The water sharing agreement was put on hold after Banerjee's strong opposition over fears that the treaty could spell disaster for northern West Bengal.

In September 2011, Banerjee had embarrassed then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh by pulling out of his delegation to Bangladesh over the water-sharing agreement, forcing India to drop it from the agenda. However, the ice seems to have melted now following Banerjee's visit to Bangladesh in February, when she had assured Hasina of a breakthrough on the issue.

Banerjee also held talks with Modi during his recent visit to the state, as also reportedly several rounds of telephonic communication with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the Teesta issue. The Indian parliament earlier this month passed a key constitutional amendment bill to give effect to the swapping of border land enclaves between India and Bangladesh under a 1974 agreement.

The historic LBA with Bangladesh deals with the transfer of 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh, while Dhaka is to transfer 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India. A 6.1-km undefined border stretch will be demarcated with the bill being passed by parliament.

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