Delhi, Dhaka to sign pacts on terror, trade


New Delhi : India and Bangladesh Thursday decided to step up trade and connectivity and to conclude three pacts on combating terror. The agreements are expected to be signed when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits New Delhi this year.

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Signalling an upward swing in bilateral ties, dogged by years of mistrust, the two countries reiterated not to allow the use of their territories for activities inimical to each other’s security interests. They also pledged to expand cooperation to deter terror attacks.

The development is significant as New Delhi is hopeful that the new government in Dhaka will address its concerns about anti-India insurgents allegedly operating from Bangladesh.

The readiness to sign three agreements came in a joint statement issued at the end of Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni’s four-day visit to India Thursday.

The two countries agreed to conclude agreements on providing mutual legal assistance on criminal matters; transferring sentenced people and combating terrorism, organised crime as well as illegal drug trafficking.

Moni held delegation-level talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. She called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Manmohan Singh told Moni that India “attached highest priority to its relations with Bangladesh” and reiterated his invitation to Sheikh Hasina to visit New Delhi at an early date.

Manmohan Singh also expressed the hope that Moni’s visit would write “a new chapter in the bilateral relations.”

The row over the Tipaimukh dam in Manipur also showed signs of easing. Dhaka welcomed New Delhi’s reassurance not to take steps that adversely impacts Bangladesh, the statement said.

The two sides decided to address issues relating to river water sharing and to expand connectivity.

The visit was marked by warmth and cordiality. Each side showed keenness to respond positively to the concerns of the other, the statement said.

The two foreign offices would be provided mandate to meet and discuss the technical and other parameters with a view to finalise an agreement for sharing of the Teesta river waters, the statement said.

With the the long-festering land border issue on mind, the two countries also agreed to resolve the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and the Tin Bigha corridor.

India and Bangladesh held discussions on designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under the Inland Water Transit and Trade Agreement as well as India to use the Chittagong port.

Dhaka agreed to provide access to Ashuganj port to facilitate transportation of the Over Dimensional Consignments for the Palatana power project in Tripura.

India agreed to facilitate Nepal-Bangladesh and Bhutan-Bangladesh connectivity; reopen the Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point and the land route at Demagiri-Thegamukh on Mizoram border for bilateral trade.

Both sides decided to start Border Haats at the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border and facilitate movement of container cargo by rail and water.

To enhance cooperation in power sector, India agreed to provide at least 100 MW to Bangladesh on priority.