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India, Bangladesh resolve to jointly combat terror

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 22: India and Bangladesh have agreed to jointly combat terrorism and find mutually-satisfactory solutions to outstanding issues including those of security and river water-sharing.

They have also decided to increase the frequency of bilateral institutional mechanisms for resolving the outstanding issues and monitor the progress at the political level.

The decisions were arrived at during meetings between Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and visiting Bangladesh Premier Begum Khaleda Zia.

The two Prime Ministers held comprehensive discussions yesterday on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. They also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.

''The discussions were underpinned by the common desire to strengthen and consolidate the friendly ties that already exist between the two countries based on shared history and culture and wide-ranging people-to-people relations,'' a joint press statement issued today said.

The statement said during the discussions, both sides agreed that meetings of the bilateral institutional mechanisms like the Joint Economic Commission, the Joint Boundary Working Groups, the Joint Rivers Commission and the Home Secretary-level talks would be held more frequently to ensure movement in a positive direction and their outcome monitored by the political leadership on a continuous basis.

Whether it is security, trade or sharing of water, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work closely together to find mutually-satisfactory solutions.

Terrorism is the main issue of concern between the two countries. While India claims that Bangladesh is providing shelter to Northeast insurgents, Dhaka categorically denies it. The two countries have earlier agreed to a 'coordinated patrolling' mechanism to stop illegal cross-border activities. However, there has not been any agreement on the 'joint border patrolling.' They share a 4,000 km border and India is fencing it to check illegal activities. While about 2,500 KM fencing is expected to be completed by December 31, this year, the remaining 1,500 km cannot be fenced because it is mostly riverine.

Bangladesh also objects to fencing within 150 yards of the zero line.

Both sides agreed that the visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister to India had contributed to further consolidation and progress in the already close and friendly relations between the two countries.

The two sides also signed two agreements after talks yesterday on stepping up bilateral trade and checking smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The trade agreement revives a 1980 pact which was due to expire on March 31. It is expected to provide a framework for expansion of bilateral trade while the other agreement signals the joint determination of the two governments to combat drug trafficking.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister who arrived here on March 20 on a three-day official visit, her first since assuming power in 2001, also met Prresident A P J Abdul Kalam, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, Leader of Opposition L K Advani and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga also called on her.

The two leaders also agreed on the need to maintain high-level political dialogue between the two countries.

It was recalled that the Indian Prime Minister had met the Bangladesh Prime Minister in Dhaka in November last year during the 13th SAARC Summit. The current visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister provided both countries the opportunity to continue and sustain their high-level political dialogue.

The visit is also a testimony to the highest priority attached by both countries to the promotion of their bilateral relations in all aspects, the statement added.

The two leaders also expressed satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in November 2005.

They agreed that the positive outcome of the Summit would enable SAARC member countries to achieve specific economic and social objectives.

Both leaders emphasised that implementation of SAFTA must be pursued with vigour to advance the SAARC economic agenda.


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