SM Krishna embarks on Bangladesh visit

New Delhi: External affairs minister S M Krishna on Wednesday embarked on an official visit to Bangladesh during which he is expected to convey India`s commitment to forging a strong and enduring relationship with the people and government of the neighbouring country.

During talks with the Bangla leadership, Krishna will review the entire gamut of bilateral relations ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s September 6-7- visit there.

Krishna`s three-day trip comes against the backdrop of Singh`s remarks last Wednesday about 25 per cent of Bangladeshis being anti-Indian which kicked up an uproar in that country.

The two countries have since downplayed the remarks with Krishna himself denying suggestions that his trip was being undertaken to repair the damage to bilateral relations following the prime minister`s remarks.

The remarks by Singh were intended to be off-the-record but figured in the official transcript of the interaction between the Prime Minister and the Editors. The remarks were later edited out of the official transcript.

The high point of Krishna`s stay in Dhaka will be tomorrow`s meetings when he calls on Bangla premier Sheikh Hasina and holds formal talks with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Mo.

The two sides are expected to sign several "bilateral documents" on transit, a 15 year interim accord on Teesta river water-sharing, joint ventures in power sector and development projects under the one billion dollar Line of Credit extended by India in January last year during Hasina`s visit to Delhi.

Krishna`s visit is part of efforts to do the spadework for working out the "deliverables" by India during Singh`s visit to Dhaka when New Delhi is expected to come out with a raft of unilateral trade concessions, including further easing of Bangladeshi textile exports to Indian market, and an agreement on border demarcation and adversely-held enclaves.