No decision on transit at this point of time: Touhid Hossain

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Dhaka, Jul 15 (UNI) No decision on India's proposal for transit will be taken at the Foreign Secretary-level talks beginning in New Delhi on Thursday, said Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain, who flies to the Indian capital tomorrow for the meet.

''Nothing to be worried, no decision will be taken at this point of time,'' he told reporters this afternoon.

Quoting the Foreign Advisor's earlier statement made to dispel speculations over the transit issue, Mr Touhid reaffirmed that nothing would be done against Bangladesh's interest.

A few days ago, Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakarbarty had told reporters the transit issue would be raised at the Foreign Secretary-level meeting in Delhi as India is interested in it.

Mr Touhid said usually such decision is not taken at this level.

Besides, he said, "it will take time. It needs scrutiny." He observed that many newspaper reports about the transit are speculative and devoid of facts.

India has been pressing for transit through Bangladesh to have communication links with its seven landlocked Northeastern states.

Bangladesh fears that the transit to India may pose threat on the country's sovereignty and security.

The Foreign Secretary said the Bangladesh side asks for reducing the huge trade deficit with the bigger economic neighbour that currently stands at more than 1.9 billion dollar.

He said Bangladesh would urge India to take unilateral measures that include removal of non-tariff barriers to Bangladeshi exports, duty-free access of Bangladeshi products to Indian market and mutual recognition of standard.

In reply to a question, Mr Touhid said the trade gap could be reduced by way of reducing negative list of products and removal of non-tariff barriers on India's part.

He further said Bangladesh would flag the issues of implementing the Land Boundary Agreement, border demarcation of the remaining 6.5 km, early convening of meeting of the Joint Boundary Working Group, unfettered access through Tin-bigha corridor, exchange of enclaves and adversely possessed territories, the alleged killing of unarmed civilians by the India BSF, early convening of the 37th session of the Joint Rivers Commission.

''India is our friendly neighbour, and I believe any problem can be resolved through discussion,'' he said, adding, ''We will try to find common grounds on all the bilateral issues.'' Mr Touhid indicated that the Bangladesh-India Home Secretary-level talks may be held next month when the boundary issue would be discussed.

The Foreign Secretary said Dhaka would also propose to Delhi to open talks related to maritime boundary delimitation. Last talks on the subject were held in December 2-5, 1980.

Mr Touhid said he will also seek timely delivery of the remaining contracted five lakh metric tons of non-basmati parboiled rice. Some concrete proposals regarding cooperation in Agriculture based on the existing MoU between Bangladesh and India will also be discussed.

Asked about frequency of Dhaka-Kolkata train service, the Foreign Secretary said both sides agreed to make this service more effective as it takes five hours for immigration clearance on the Indian side.

As a result, passengers do not feel interested in travelling by trains.

On more bus services between the two countries, Mr Touhid said a proposal on Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service could be discussed.

He said the Bangladesh side will propose to India to allow Nepalese transports to enter Bangladesh through Indian territory to expedite trade between Dhaka and Kathmandu.


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