Bangladesh ready with its response to draft MLA : Minister

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Dhaka, Oct 29 (UNI) Bangladesh has finalised its response to the draft Mutual Legal Assistance treaty prepared by India, aiming at synchronising legal frameworks to tackle cross-border crimes in SAARC nations.

Member states failed to reach an agreement over the draft at the second SAARC Home Ministers Meeting, which was held at New Delhi between October 23-26.

Legal experts have been asked to finalise the draft of the treaty after getting inputs from member states. The SAARC Secretariat will compile them and then the legal experts will meet in Colombo in April 2008 to finalise the treaty.

Formation of a regional police forum, SAARCPOL, on the lines of EUROPOL, has also been deferred as Ministers felt that more work was needed to be done on the issue.

''We need to examine further before taking any decision regarding the MLA treaty because there are many aspects involved, including huge funding,'' LGRD Adviser Anwarul Iqbal told reporters at a briefing yesterday.

Mr Iqbal led the Bangladeshi delegation at the three-day ministerial-level negotiations.

''The home secretaries thought that they did not get enough time to examine the draft treaty prepared by India,'' said Home Secretary Abdul Karim, who was also on the nine-member Bangladeshi delegation.

''Bangladesh's opinion on the draft distributed among the member states before the meeting is almost ready awaiting some final work,'' he said.

The Home Ministers' conference discussed various issues, including drugs and human trafficking, and reviewed progresses made by the SAARC Drug Offence Monitoring and the SAARC Terrorist Offence Monitoring desks.

''The member states reiterated last year's statement that the desks are not effective,'' Mr Iqbal said, adding that the desks will be made effective and will be brought under a regional information network so that the member states get necessary information easily.

The LGRD Advisor denied that there was any bilateral talks with India on the extradition of criminals hiding in the two countries.

''It was not discussed, neither was it on the agenda.'' UNI

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