A red carpet was rolled out when Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh arrived Tuesday morning on a state visit which is expected to give a renewed impetus to the bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received the Indian premier and his wife Gursharan Kaur at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport when they alighted from a special aircraft.
The aircraft of Air India carrying the Indian delegation touched down at the airport around 11:30am Tuesday.
A 19-gun salute heralded Manmohan’s arrival. Later, he received a guard of honour from a smartly turned out contingent drawn from three services of the armed forces. Manmohan inspected the guard and took the state salute.
From the airport, he directly went to National Mausoleum in Savar to lay wreaths. He is expected to plant a sapling there and sign the visitors’ book.
Then he will go to Pan Pacific Hotel Sonargaon where he will stay during his two-day visit.
At the airport and adjoining areas, law enforcers put a foolproof security. Apart from the securitymen in uniform, scores others in plainclothes were kept on high alert there.
Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Bangladesh ministers AMA Muhith, Matia Chowdhury, Syed Asharful Islam, Dr Dipu Moni, Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Abdur Razzak, Engineer Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, Ramesh Chandra Sen and Rezaul Karim Hira accompanied Sheikh Hasina in welcoming Manmohan Singh.
Elsewhere in the capital with concentration around Hotel Sonargaon, law enforcers have kept vigilance.
Manmohan’s much-hyped visit, first by an Indian prime minister in 12 years, has already attracted international attention drawing journalists from across the globe.
The Indian delegation is leading a 136-member official delegation will accompany Manmohan including the chief ministers of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
The visit suffered a damper after a last-minute drama from Paschimbanga (West Bengal) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cast doubt over the signing of Teesta water-sharing treaty.
Mamata, whose Trinamool Congress is the second largest ally of the United Progressive Alliance, cancelled her trip to Dhaka with Manmohan in protest against the final draft of the Teesta water sharing agreement.
The Indian delegation also includes External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, Media Adviser Harish Khare, TKA Nair, principal secretary to PM; Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, a 49-member security team and a 42-member media team.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Finance Minister AMA Muhith will separately call on Manmohan at Hotel Sonargaon from 4:10pm.
Manmohan will start for Prime Minister’s Office at 4:55pm and have a tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Hasina for half an hour.
After the private conversation, the two prime ministers at 5:35pm will join official talks.
Hasina will lead a 16-member official delegation while Manmohan an 18-member delegation in the discussion followed by signing of some 10 agreements/protocols/MoUs and media statements. The entire programme will last for about 80 minutes.
Around 8:00pm, the Indian prime minister will attend a banquet to be hosted by hisBangladeshcounterpart in his honour at Sonargaon Hotel.
On the concluding day of his visit tomorrow, Manmohan will give a talk on “India,BangladeshandSouth Asia” at the Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University around 11:00am.
Manmohan will also go to Bangabhaban at noon to visit President Zillur Rahman. The two will hold talks for 25 minutes.
From Bangabhaban, Manmohan will leave forBangabandhuMemorialMuseumat Dhanmondi to place a wreath at the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He will then return to Sonargaon Hotel.
After lunch, BNP Chairperson and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia, Jatiya Party President HM Ershad and leaders of the grand alliance are expected to pay courtesy call on the Indian prime minister separately.
He will leave Dhaka forNew Delhiaround 6:00pm. Sheikh Hasina will see him off.
Manmohan’s wife Gursharan Kaur will also visit Gurudwara Nanakshahi at Dhaka University on the first day.