Bangla Army Chief in India to boost defence ties

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Bangla Army Chief
New Delhi, Feb 25: Bangladesh's Army Chief, General Moeen U. Ahmed, has arrived in New Delhi on a week-long visit to India to revive bilateral defence and political ties and boost security co-operation between the two countries.

The Indian army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, received General Ahmed.e took the traditional guard of honour on Monday. "This will definitely enhance the relationship between the two offices in particular and in general of course between Bangladesh and India," said General Ahmed. As a friendly gesture, General Kapoor presented General Ahmed six horses, two stallions and four mares, worth around Rs. 35 million. "We have very strong friendship ties with Bangladesh ever since its formation, so it's only a token and a gesture of friendship between our countries," said General Kapoor. According to official sources, General Ahmed and his Indian counterpart would discuss steps to combat corruption and terrorism, and the possibility of joint operations against insurgent groups.

General Ahmed is a key figure in Bangladesh politics, where an army-backed interim authority has ruled under a state of emergency since taking charge in January 2007, following months of political violence.

General Ahmed is expected to meet the President, the Prime Minister and senior Government leaders, besides the Chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

Analysts say Bangladesh is keen for India's political support as it pursues an anti-corruption drive and implements reforms ahead of its return to an elected Government.

The interim authority has pledged to hold free and fair elections before the end of this year.

Bangladesh's generals have ruled the country for 15 years until December 1990, when a people's revolt ousted the last military ruler, General Hossain Mohammad Ershad.

But General Ahmed has repeatedly said the army has no intention of taking power, but would assist in the establishment of a democratic government.

India helped Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, during its 1971-independence war against Pakistan.

But despite friendly relations, Indian and Bangladeshi border guards have often exchanged fire along their porous 4,000-km border that runs through rice fields, hills, jungles, marshes and rivers.

They accuse each other of targeting civilians on the frontier, which has acquired a reputation for rampant smuggling and illegal migration.


ANI

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