Dhaka, Delhi upbeat about resolving outstanding issues
All outstanding issues between Bangladesh and India are expected to be resolved before the upcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh, reports BSS.
This optimism was expressed when visiting Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and discussed various matters of common interests with her, at her office in Dhaka on Thursday.
They discussed various issues of bilateral interest, said Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, Press Secretary to the prime minister, while briefing the newsmen after the meeting.
Appreciating the dynamic and prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Indian Foreign Minister said the existing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries will be a role model for other co0untries in Asia.
The issue of providing transit facilities to Nepal and Bhutan also came up for discussion in the meeting.
Sheikh Hasina said her government was working relentlessly for improving the lot of the common people in Bangladesh.
Describing poverty as the main impediment to development in the South Asian region, she said continuity of democracy is needed for eradicating poverty from South Asia.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasised the need for working together for alleviating poverty in the region for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries. He referred to various programmes undertaken by her government to ameliorate the condition of the people.
The conference on austism, scheduled to be held in Dhaka on July 25 and 26, was also discussed in the meeting. President of Indian Congress Party Sonia Gandhi is expected to inaugurate the conference.
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Advisers to the Prime Minister Dr Gowher Rizvi and Dr Mashiur Rahman, Bangladesh High Commissioner to New Delhi Mr. Tareque A Karim, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Mr. Rajeet Mitter, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. M A Karim, Foreign Secretary Mr. Mijarul Quayes and PM’s Press Secretary Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, among others, were present on the occasion.
UNB adds: Bangladesh and India on Thursday expressed optimism about signing interim deals on water sharing of the common rivers, Teesta and Feni, and on border demarcation during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka on September 6-7.
The details of the accords, however, are still to be worked out.
At a joint press conference after the official talks between the two Foreign Ministers, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna came up with the identical views on resolving the outstanding issues.
Replying to a question, Dipu Moni said the waters of the common rivers will be shared on the basis of equity and fairness and the demarcation of 6.5 km border and transfer of enclaves and lands in ‘adverse possession’ will be made under "a package" deal, in the spirit of 1974 Mujib-Indira Land Boundary Agreement.
About the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports, she said it would be done under a framework of agreement, encompassing India, Nepal and Bhutan.
"It is a part of transit issue. We’re trying to come up with a framework under which a number of protocols will be signed and that work is going on," Dipu Moni said.
She said the Joint River Commission has nearly finalised the issue about the sharing of the Teesta and Feni river waters and "we will be able to sign something during the visit."
About the killing of Bangladeshi civilians by Indian BSF at the border, Dipu Moni said Dhaka’s concern was conveyed to her Indian counterpart during the official meeting and India reassured Bangladesh that the killing at the border would be brought down to a zero level through a joint border management.
Both the Foreign Ministers reiterated that no insurgent, extremist or terrorist group would be allowed to use the soil of their respective countries to carry out activities inimical to each other’s interest.
On the border issue, both the Foreign Ministers said the Joint Border Working Group has been working on it and they will be able to conclude their work before Manmohan’s visit.
In reply to a question about cooperation in the energy sector, Indian Foreign Minister Mr. S. M. Krishna said India will supply 250 MW of electricity to Bangladesh by the end of 2112 or early 2013 at a preferential tariff at which the Indian power sector giant, NTPC supplies electricity to other Indian states.
Both India and Bangladesh will set up a 1300 MW coal-based power plant in Bagerhat and the feasibility study on the plan has been completed, he noted.
Regarding bilateral trade, Mr. Krishna said Bangladesh’s export to India has increased by 56 per cent in the first 10 months of fiscal 2010-11 and "we would very much like to see further growth of the export to India by Bangladesh."
Under the duty-free quota, India, he added, has increased the volume of Bangladesh’s export of readymade garment (RMG) products to 10 million pieces from 8.0 million pieces.
Asked if the Indian government still holds Manmohan’s recent remarks that 25 per cent population of Bangladesh are Jamaat-e-Islami and they are, many times, in the clutches of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), Krishna said the matter was also discussed during his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He avoided a direct reply to the question and said it is Manmohan’s consistent stand to consider Bangladesh as a close friend and the relations between Bangladesh and India are a role model for other countries in the region.
Asked if Manmohan made the remarks due to lack of any trust on Bangladesh, Krishna said there is ‘no trust deficit’ between Bangladesh and India. "India has total trust and confidence on Bangladesh", he strongly reiterated.
Replying to another question, the Indian External Affairs Minister said he is going back to New Delhi with a memory of the emergence of a resurgent Bangladesh.
BSS further adds: Bangladesh and India Thursday signed two agreements on investment protection and promotion and the operating procedure for the movement of the Bhutanese vehicles to Bangladesh through the Indian territory.
Visiting Indian external affairs minister SM Krishna and his Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni witnessed the signing of the deals before the media at the Sonargaon Hotel.
The Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments is aimed at creating favourable conditions for fostering and encouraging investment.
Officials familiar with the process said the deal envisaged that ‘national treatment’ and ‘the most favoured nation treatment’ would be accorded by either country to investments by investors of the other country.
They said the agreement also states that investments of either country will not be nationalised or expropriated except for public purpose, in accordance with law and against fair and equitable compensation.
It also provides for repatriation of capital investment, non-operating profits, loan repayments, royalty payments and service fees without delay and on a non-discriminatory basis.
The two countries signed the Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments on February 9, 2009 while it was ratified Thursday as Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Mr. Rajeet Mitter and Bangladesh’s envoy to New Delhi Ahmed Mr. Tariq Karim signed the protocol.
The deal which would be effective from July 7, 2011 will be valid for ten years and thereafter it would be deemed to have been automatically extended unless either government gives a written notice to the other of its intention to terminate it.
The second agreement, titled Standard Operating Procedure for movement of the Bhutanese vehicles between Indian Land Customs Stations (LCS) and Bangladesh LCS, was signed Thursday, in line with a decision reached between Dhaka and New Delhi during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in January 2010.
The two sides at that time agreed that trucks for movement from Bhutan and Nepal would be allowed to enter 200 meters inside the Bangladesh border under arrangements to be mutually agreed upon, and put in place in both the countries.
The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), aimed at facilitating movement of trucks from Nepal, was concluded in October 2010 during the visit of the Bangladesh commerce minister to New Delhi.
An identical SOP to facilitate movement of trucks from Bhutan that was signed on July 7, 2011, will promote bilateral trade between Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Members of Bangladesh National Board of Revenue (NBR) Mr. M Shah Alam Khan and Joint Secretary of the Indian External Affairs Ministry Mr. Harshabardhan Sinla signed the deal on behalf of their respective side.
Reuters adds: India will sell 500 megawatts of electricity to Bangladesh and half of it will be available by the end of 2012 or early 2013, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said in Dhaka on Thursday.
He told reporters at a news conference that India also agreed to install a coal-based thermal power plant with 1,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity in Bangladesh’s southern Khulna area.
"The connectivity work between the two countries for Bangladesh importing the electricity is going on smoothly while the feasibility study for setting up the coal-based power plant has just been completed," Krishna said.
The Indian minister, who arrived Dhaka on Wednesday on a three-day visit, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other senior ministers including the finance minister.
He will also meet President Zillur Rahman and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia .
Bangladesh aims to nearly triple power generation to 15,357 megawatts (MW) by the end of 2015 as it scrambles to improve living conditions for its people and to become a middle income country by 2021, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told at the same news conference.
The plan includes import of 1,000 MW of power from India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Besides, the south Asian country expects to generate 2,000 MW of electricity from a nuclear power plant, construction of which will begin next year.
"The details of the thermal power plant project fired by coal are under process and things are moving fast," Mohammad Mijarul Quaes Bangladesh’s foreign secretary, told the news agency.
The Fainancial Express 08/07/2011
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