India, Bangladesh resume maritime boundary talks after 28 yrs

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Dhaka, Sep 15 (UNI) Bangladesh has claimed country's rights over exclusive economic zone for extraction of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal as officials of India and Bangladesh today began three-day talks on delimitation of maritime boundary.

The two sides discussed the issue of 'starting point' on how to mark from the coastline the exclusive economic zone that has apparently overlapped claims of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar due to the funnel-like shape of the Bay of Bengal, meeting sources said.

''We have a fruitful discussion and hope to yield a positive outcome at the end of the talks on Wednesday,'' said M A K Mahmood, additional foreign secretary, who led a 15-member Bangladesh delegation in the meeting.

The seven-member Indian team at the talks was led by Chief Hydrographer Rear Admiral B R Raoin.

The officials in Dhaka, however, saw this meeting as a breakthrough in resolving the maritime dispute as the neighbouring agreed to hold talks after a lapse of 28 years.

In absence of an accepted exclusive economic zone, India and Myanmar recently opposed Bangladesh's off-shore block bidding for exploration of oil and gas even within the territorial sea of the country.

''The two sides touched upon the issue of changing course of the Hariabhanga river at the estuary near the disputed Talpatty islands in the Bay of Bengal,'' stated the officials.

The issue of continental shelves in the Bay was also discussed in the meeting.

It is to be noted that the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea allows each littoral country to claim 350 nautical miles as its continental shelve.

India and Bangladesh had last held talks in 1980 to iron out differences on the contentious maritime boundary in the resource-rich Bay of Bengal.

As signatories to the UN convention, Dhaka and New Delhi must submit their claims to the United Nations by 2011 and 2009 respectively.

UNI XC PY KN2226

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