- Jun 18, 2009
Delhi offers transit, power
Dhaka discusses use of Ctg port; both countries agree to a host of issues at foreign minister level talks in India
In a major breakthrough in bilateral relationship, India has agreed with Bangladesh to facilitate Bangladesh's transit to Nepal and Bhutan, provide at least 100MW power on priority basis, increase trade and communication facilities and resolve other outstanding issues.
Recognising the importance of bilateral and regional connectivity, Bangladesh discussed allowing India to use Chittagong Port and designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under the Inland Water Transit and Trade Agreement, says a joint press statement of Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
Both sides agreed to resolve outstanding issues relating to Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and Tin Bigha Corridor, said the statement issued in New Delhi yesterday during Dipu Moni's September 7-10 official visit to the neighbouring country.
Both the countries recognised the need to finalise the water-sharing agreement for the Teesta and agreed to begin Joint Hydrological Observations on the river immediately.
If finalised, this will be the second water management treaty with India after the 1996 Ganges Water Treaty.
Bangladesh and India did not have any dialogue on water sharing in the last four years.
The two countries agreed to finalise three agreements on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons and combating international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug trafficking.
They agreed on re-opening of Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point as well as a land route at Demagiri-Thegamukh on the Mizoram border for bilateral trade.
India agreed in principle to provide Bangladesh with a line of credit for railway projects and supplying locomotives, coaches and buses. It offered to take up construction of Akhaura-Agartala railway link under Indian assistance.
India also agreed to assist Bangladesh in dredging rivers.
Both the sides agreed to start markets on the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border and allow movement of container cargos by rail and water for bilateral trade.
Bangladesh raised the issue of duty-free access for its commodities, removal of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers and improvement of infrastructure on the Indian side. India requested Bangladesh to remove barriers to Indian investments and port restrictions for specific commodities.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni earlier discussed a range of issues with the Indian foreign minister. She also called on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Minister for Finance Pranab Mukherjee and Union Minister for Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Dipu was accompanied by her spouse Tawfique Newaz, Foreign Secretary Ambassador Mijarul Quayes, and Director General (South Asia) of foreign ministry Muhammad Imran.
The Indian premier told Dipu that India attaches highest priority to its relations with Bangladesh. He reiterated his invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit India, expressing the hope that her visit would write a new chapter in Indo-Bangladesh relations.
During the official talks, the two ministers noted that recent elections
have provided both the countries with a historical opportunity to take their bilateral relations to a greater height.
Our New Delhi correspondent writes: This is the first time that India and Bangladesh reached such substantive agreements in the area of security cooperation.
Replying to a question from media persons at the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi after the release of the joint statement, Dipu said Bangladesh government is taking action against militants and India and Bangladesh agreed to cooperate on the issue. She reiterated "our resolve not to allow use of our territories against each other".
Asked about the joint operation against militants, she said the two countries can cooperate by sharing intelligence about the ultras.
She, however, made it clear that the two countries "have not finalised anything on extradition agreement".
"We agreed to work together and move together not only in bilateral relations but also for entire South Asia," Dipu Moni said.
She said since both the countries believe in the rule of law and democratic and secular societies, "this is a historical opportunity for the two countries to move together to take bilateral relations to a new height".
The two countries were understood to have had differences on a "few words" in the joint statement, which were sorted out after Dipu had telephonic calls with "appropriate authorities in Dhaka".
Excerpts from joint press statement
Both sides recognised the need to expedite negotiations with a view to finalise an agreement for sharing of the waters of Teesta river. Towards this end, they agreed to mandate their respective Foreign Offices to meet and discuss the technical and other parameters of this issue. They agreed to immediately commence Joint Hydrological Observations on the river. They also agreed to undertake bank protection works, dredging of Ichhamati river and minor irrigation/drinking water schemes on Feni river.
The Bangladesh side thanked the Indian side for the hospitality and cooperation extended to the Bangladesh Parliamentary delegation during their visit to the proposed Tipaimukh Dam site. In this context, the Bangladesh side welcomed India's reassurance that it would not take steps that would adversely impact Bangladesh.
Both sides recognised the importance of bilateral and regional connectivity. In this context, both sides discussed designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under Article-23 of the Inland Water Transit and Trade Agreement as well as the use of Chittagong port by India. Bangladesh side agreed to provide access to Ashuganj Port to facilitate the transportation of the Over Dimensional Consignments for the Palatana Power Project in Tripura.
Indian side agreed to facilitate Nepal-Bangladesh and Bhutan-Bangladesh connectivity.
Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the power sector. India agreed to provide at least 100 MW to Bangladesh on a priority basis. Ahead of this, it will also undertake a feasibility study on power grid inter-connectivity for transmission lines, etc from India to Bangladesh.
Both sides agreed on the re-opening [of] Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point as well as opening a land route at Demagiri-Thegamukh on the Mizoram border for bilateral trade.
India agreed in principle to provide a Line of Credit for railway projects and supply of locomotives, coaches and buses. India offered to take up construction of Akhaura-Agartala railway link under Indian assistance.
India also agreed to assist Bangladesh in the dredging sector.
Both sides agreed to start Border Haats [markets] at the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border for mutual benefit of the people in these areas.
Both sides agreed to movement of containerised cargo by rail and water for bilateral trade.
Both sides welcomed the holding of the Joint Working Group on Trade last month and discussed broad economic issues with a view to fully activate all institutional mechanisms to promote two-way trade, initiate long pending trade facilitation measures and facilitate movement of businessmen and professionals. Bangladesh specifically raised the issue of duty free access to Bangladeshi commodities, removal of Non Tariff and Para Tariff Barriers and improvement of infrastructures on the Indian side. Indian side expressed its readiness to assist Bangladesh in strengthening the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute. It also requested for removal of barriers to Indian investments and port restrictions for specific commodities.
Both sides agreed to comprehensively address all outstanding land boundary issues. Both sides expressed their intent to resolve outstanding issues relating to Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and the Tin Bigha Corridor. Both sides also recognised the need for electrification of Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves as a humanitarian gesture.
The two Ministers reiterated their resolve to strengthen bilateral co-operation to deter the recurrence of terrorist incidents. Both sides also reiterated their resolve not to allow the use of their territories for activities inimical to each other's security interests.
Both sides agreed to conclude the following three agreements:
a. Agreement for mutual legal assistance on criminal matters;
b. Agreement of transfer of sentenced persons;
c. Agreement on combating international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug trafficking.
The two Ministers reiterated their conviction that opportunities for fruitful collaboration between the two countries in furthering mutual interests were enormous and resolved to remain engaged to expeditiously address all bilateral issues.
The Daily Star - Details News