Ahead of B'desh visit Mamata tight-lipped on contentious Teesta river

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Kolkata, Feb 19: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday remained tight-lipped on whether she would discuss the contentious Teesta river issue with Bangladeshi leaders during her 3-day visit to that country.

Banerjee, who will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, is hopeful of a solution to the long pending Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between the two countries.

Mamata tight-lipped on Teesta river

"I will not say anything on Teesta. Ask if you have anything else (to ask)," the chief minister told reporters hours before her departure.

Banerjee had earlier proved to be a stumbling block when the UPA II government was closing in on the LBA. In 2011, she had backed out from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh opposing the Teesta water-sharing treaty.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj telephoned her today and expressed good wishes for her visit, Banerjee said.

"The relation between the two countries is cordial. I will try to act as a bridge in bettering the relation," she said describing her impending visit as "historic".

Banerjee said she would have a one-to-one meeting with Hasina besides calling on Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid. On the LBA, she said her government has given proposals to the Centre for rehabilitation of the people and is hopeful of a good response from the Central government.

"I have already told you (on the state government's latest stand) about the enclaves. It is a sensitive matter. Please, you definitely want that the relations between the two countries improve," the chief minister said.

"We have already said let there be a settlement to the land dispute. We have talked to the people living in enclaves. And I myself undertook a visit for that purpose. We have asked the Centre to prepare a rehabilitation package," she said.

"If it is done, immediately the implementation would be done. It is in good stage and positive stage," she said.

Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress Chief, said what else she has to say, she would do it in Bangladesh. India will exchange 111 enclaves measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and receive 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres.

Almost 51,000 people reside in these enclaves. The territories involved in the exchange are in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.

PTI 

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