Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj concluded her three-day visit to Bangladesh on 27 June 2014. This was the first-ever visit by an External Affairs Minister to Bangladesh and it was also Sushma Swaraj's maiden visit to Bangladesh. The visit to Bangladesh was a goodwill visit.
During the visit, she met the top leadership of Bangladesh, including President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Sushma Swaraj also met Begum Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Begum Raushan Ershad, leader of the Jatiya Party, to send out a message that India will reach out to all mainstream political parties in Bangladesh.
The issues discussed with the top leaders during the visit included bringing cross-border movement of people into a mutually discussed and agreed legal paradigm. This is shorthand for ensuring that illegal migration is controlled and people enter India from Bangladesh legally.
Besides, Teesta Water sharing treaty, the Land Boundary Agreement and to ease visa regulation to facilitate legal travel by Bangladeshis to India were also discussed.
Before returning to Delhi, she visited Dhakeshwari Temple and offered prayers.
By making Dhaka her first stop, Eaternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj began the task of fine-tuning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ground breaking foreign policy gambit that saw the leaders of SAARC countries and Mauritius attend the swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues.
The renewed emphasis on reaching out to neighbours is an adroit move by India’s new government. It also signals the growing bipartisan nature of the conduct of foreign policy, cutting across party lines, by India’s political leadership. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is badly in need of rejuvenation.