India, Bangladesh to jointly combat terrorism

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) India and Bangladesh will jointly fight global terrorism and strengthen cooperation in areas including security, trade and economy, agriculture and hydro-power.

Terrorism and infiltration are major areas of concern between the two countries and India says various terrorist outfits and their leaders have taken shelter in Bangladesh, directing their activities from Bangladeshi soil.

At the Indo-Bangladesh Foreign Office Consultations held here between Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Bangladeshi counterpart Touhid Hussain, the two countries also agreed to accord highest priority to enhancing bilateral relations.

Addressing a joint press conference after the talks, Mr Menon said the discussions on terrorism focused on how the scourge could be fought together.

Meanwhile, officials here said India has sent 65,631 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under an agreement signed between the two countries. The rice is being unloaded at Chittagong Port and five more ships carrying another 60,000 tonnes of rice will arrive at the port shortly.

Bangladesh has already received about 1.20 lakh tonnes of rice from India under the deal while India has committed to export 5 lakh tones of rice to Bangladesh.

Asked about various terrorist leaders and outfits which have taken shelter in Bangladesh, Mr Menon said the two countries have a separate mechanism for tackling such issues.

Both countries have a Joint Working Group (JWG) on terrorism to discuss issues related to terrorism.

In addition, Home Seretaries of both countries and respective Chiefs of Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) also hold regular consultations to discuss issues related to security, infiltration, terrorism and cross-border crimes.

Several ULFA leaders, including Paresh Barua, have taken refuge in Bangladesh. Reports say Paresh Barua is in a Bangladesh jail.

Mr Touhid Hussain said in reply to a question that work on Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) was in an advanced stage of finalisation and would be concluded in the near future.

He also said the Technical Committee on Embankment Protection of Rivers would meet shortly.

Mr Menon said the discussions between the two sides were ''open, candid and substantive'' covering all issues including trade and economy, security, water and other aspects of bilateral relations.

Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta will go to Bangladesh in the ''near future,'' he added.

''Relations with Bangladesh are given highest priority.

We have tried to help Bangladesh to the extent we could...We have very useful and much better understanding on all issues...There is a fair amount of trust and understanding between the two countries.'' The Foreign Secretary said it was also decided to enhance cooperation in agriculture and science and technology.

The previous meeting was held in Dhaka. During the meeting, the two sides had agreed to enhance security cooperation, especially information sharing to combat terrorism, cross-border crime and insurgency.

Sources said India has asked Bangladesh to sign an agreement to ensure transportation of goods for Northeastern states through Bangladesh territory.

India is seeking transit facility for regulation of passenger and cargo vehicular traffic between the two countries.

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