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Central & South Asia

India to ease visa rules for Bangladeshis

Decision announced as Indian foreign minister visits its eastern neighour to boost ties.

Last updated: 26 Jun 2014 14:00
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No major pacts or agreements are a part of Sushma Swaraj's 'goodwill' visit to Bangladesh [Reuters]

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, who has held talks with his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, in the capital, Dhaka, has said that its western neighbour has agreed to simplify the visa rules, according to reports.

Bangladeshis above 65 years and children below the age of 13 will be eligible for multiple-entry tourist visas for five years on arrival, the English-language channel NDTV reported.

On her maiden three-day trip abroad after assuming office last month, Swaraj also extended Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's invitation to Bangaldeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit India.

Both sides discussed key bilateral issues, including the much-delayed ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), the proposed Teesta river sharing agreement, border killings and the issue of illegal immigration.

Hasina's Press Secretary AKM Shamim Chowdhury said that the Indian foreign minister told Hasina that the LBA Bill has already been placed in the Lok Sabha (lower House) and it is under active consideration of her government, The Bangladesh Today reported.

The LBA was signed in 2011 by the previous Indian government and was opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was then in opposition.

During the meeting Prime Minister Hasina also reiterated that Bangladesh's soil will not be used for insurgency against New Delhi.

Hasina had sought easy visa procedures for the Bangladeshis aged over 65 and the students below 18 years.

Goodwill visit

The two leaders also discussed economic ties and cooperation.

However, no major pacts or agreements are a part of the 'goodwill' visit, which is aimed at further enhancing relations between the two South Asian neighbours.

Swaraj will also meet the chief of opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party leader Rowshan Ershad on Friday.

India's northeastern region shares a 1,880km border with Bangladesh and has the potential for developing cross-border trade.

The two countries have struggled to establish good ties ever since India helped its eastern neighbour emerge as independent Bangladesh in 1971 from what was then East Pakistan.

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