India and Bangladesh sought to open a new chapter in their relations as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived on a two-day trip even as a pact on the sharing of Teesta river waters failed to come through.
Despite the disappointment over Teesta, Bangladesh is positive over Manmohan Singh's visit, the first by an Indian prime minister in 12 years. Manmohan Singh was accorded a warm welcome at the Shah Jalal International Airport here by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Accompanying him were External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Manik Sarkar of Tripura, Pu Lalthanhawla of Mizoram and Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya.
"We are unlikely to sign (the Teesta water sharing agreement)," an official said on board the Indian prime minister's aircraft.
The Bangladeshi media has said frankly that not signing the Teesta river water sharing agreement "casts a shadow on the trip" of Manmohan Singh.
"Notwithstanding the shock ... that there will be no Teesta water sharing accord, Bangladesh is ready to extend a warm welcome to Manmohan Singh's much-awaited visit to Dhaka," the influential Daily Star said in an editorial.
It hoped that despite the Teesta disappointment, "some significant developments will occur in terms of economic cooperation and investment, balancing bilateral trade, settling boundary demarcation issues and stoppage of border killings".
"We hope the outcome of the visit in other areas will be proportionate to the interest generated and expectations created by the long-drawn-out preparations preceding the trip."
It said though Dhaka was in "shock" over the Teesta blow, it hoped India will "deliver" in other areas for a successful outcome to the visit.
India and Bangladesh are expected to settle their boundary dispute, improve trade ties, discuss transit arrangements and finalise river water arrangements. Terrorism, as well as illegal immigration, are also likely to feature in the wide-ranging talks.
Indian Foreign Ranjan Mathai said in New Delhi Monday: "We are trying to put in place a broad-based agenda of cooperation in areas including trade and investments, infrastructure, power, water resources, border management, education, cultural contacts, people-to-people exchanges, better border and transport infrastructure or what is called connectivity."
Other newspapers hoped since the Hasina government was meeting India's concerns on insurgency and transit, India should concede in other areas by opening up trade and give duty-free access to Bangladesh's exports.
(Rahul Dass can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)