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Dhaka wants borders with neighbours demarcated


Dhaka : Bangladesh has mooted demarcation of land and maritime borders as part of its “balanced relationship” with neighbours.

The announcement came as part of a 10-point foreign policy plan of the current caretaker government Foreign Advisor Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury mooted on Wednesday at a media conference in New York.

Chowdhury said the objectives of the plan are improving relations with neighbouring countries and the five key world powers, securing duty-free export access, attracting foreign investment and promoting manpower export, The Daily Star said Thursday.

Bangladesh has delineated the border with India that surrounds it on three sides. But problems persist in the form of access to enclaves on both sides and allegations of illegal cross-border human and cattle movement.

Bangladesh has yet to settle its maritime boundary with India and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal, an issue that has gained economic importance because all three are engaged in offshore oil and gas exploration.

A recent border deal with Myanmar aims to provide access to Bangladesh to the region that links to China’s Kunmin province.

Seeking to join the region’s quest for nuclear-driven energy generation, Bangladesh has secured assurance from Russia for assistance in building a nuclear power plant.

The government plans to set it up by 2015, Chowdhury said.

The foreign adviser pointed out the government’s achievement in securing jobs for 460,000 Bangladeshis overseas and road-link deals with Myanmar.

Enumerating the 10 points of the caretaker government’s foreign policy, Chowdhury said it should be geared to the benefit of “common man and woman”.

The foreign policies include strengthening a “balanced relationship” with the neighbouring nations and member states of the Saarc and Bimstec and developing linkages with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, European Union, Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Commonwealth.

Dhaka will also look to “actively engage ourselves in the demarcation of land and maritime boundaries”, he said.

Bangladesh needs to “cultivate relations” with the five key global powers — the USA, Russia, Britain, Japan and China, he added.

On trade, Chowdhury said the government should secure “unimpeded entry of Bangladeshi products into foreign markets, particularly of the readymade garments and negotiate reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers and favourable trading regimes through WTO mechanisms”.

Dhaka should also play a greater role in the UN by enhancing participation in peacekeeping and peace-building, and “actively espousing non-proliferation and disarmament”.