In a significant move, Bangladesh and Nepal have signed four bilateral documents in the areas of tourism, sanitation, cultural exchange and railway connectivity, aiming to further strengthen the relations between the two countries.
The deals a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tourism Cooperation, another on Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Cooperation, an MoU on Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2022-2025 and another on Letter of Exchange on Rohanpur-Sighbad Railway Route Amendment to the Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Agreement.President Abdul Hamid and visiting Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari witnessed the signing of the deals at Bangabhaban following delegation-level bilateral talks between the two countries on Monday.
The Presidents of Bangladesh and Nepal led their respective sides at the talks.
Diplomatic sources said the significant MoU on Rohanpur-Sighbad Railway Transit will give a big boost to bilateral trade by cutting the distance. This will also give boost to sub-regional connectivity among Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
Commerce Secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin and Nepalese Industry, Commerce and Supplies Secretary Dinesh Bhattarai signed the MoU on Letter of Exchange on Rohanpur-Sighbad Railway Route Amendment to the Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Agreement on behalf of their respective countries.
The original agreement was signed between Bangladesh and Nepal in 1976 under which
export commodities from Bangladesh to Nepal and imports from other countries to Nepal are carried using the Indian territory as “traffic-in-transit”.India has been providing the transit facility for Bangladesh exclusively for their exports and overland trade with Nepal.
Through the means of railways, traffic-in-transit is transported mainly via two India-Bangladesh crossing points at Rohanpur (Bangladesh) –Singhabad (India) and Birol (Bangladesh)-Radhikapur (India) railway route.
A reasonable quantity of fertiliser is being sent to Nepal from Bangladesh every year. This year, the first train loaded with fertiliser to Nepal was handed over by Bangladesh Railways to Indian Railways on February 3, 2021.
These steps will contribute towards strengthening regional cooperation and development of the economies of the countries concerned.
Meanwhile, the MoU on Tourism Cooperation jointly signed by Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Mokammel Hossian from Bangladesh and Nepalese Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary Yadav Prasad Koirala.
The MoU on Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation was signed by Bangladesh's Agriculture Ministry's Senior Secretary Md Mesbaul Islam and Nepalese Industry, Commerce and Supplies Secretary Dinesh Bhattarai.
While the MoU on Cultural Exchange Programme was inked by Bangladesh's Cultural Affairs Secretary Badrul Arefin and Nepalese Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Secretary Yadav Prasad Koirala.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque from the Bangladesh side and daughter of Nepalese President Usha Kiran Bhandari and Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali from the Nepalese side were, among others, present on the occasion.
Earlier, on her arrival at Bangabhaban, President Abdul Hamid and his wife Rashida Khanam received the Nepalese President.
The MoU signing ceremony was followed by a cultural function and dinner.
The Bangladesh President hosted a State Banquet in honour of the Nepalese President, who came to Dhaka to attend the twin historic celebrations – the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, several ministers, civil and military high officials and other dignitaries also attended the banquet.