Debating India

River-linking: India not for unilateral steps

Thursday 23 June 2005, by BARUAH*Amit

Delhi, Dhaka stress the need for convening the Joint Rivers Commission

India appreciates Dhaka’s actions in the border areas Both sides agree to strengthen measures to combat trafficking in women Agree for resuming meetings of the Joint Boundary Working Groups Bangladesh requests a Dhaka-Kathmandu bus service

NEW DELHI: Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has assured his Bangladesh counterpart Hemayetuddin that India would not take any unilateral action on its ambitious river-linking proposal that would harm the interests of Bangladesh.

``Both sides stressed the need for convening the Joint Rivers Commission in Dhaka at the earliest. It could be preceded by a meeting of the Secretaries of Water Resources Ministries,’’ a joint press statement issued after two days of talks said.

``During the talks the two sides reaffirmed their commitment not to allow their territory to be used for any activities inimical to each other’s interests. The Indian side expressed its appreciation for recent actions taken by Bangladesh in the border areas. The Indian side stressed the importance of continued action, consular access and the need for regular exchange of information in this regard. In this context, the Bangladesh side also stressed the need for action against Bangladeshi miscreants and providing consular access,’’ the statement said.

Regarding illegal cross-border movement and activities, the Indian side reiterated its proposal for a high-level meeting. While New Delhi underlined the need for border fencing up to 150 yards of the international border, Dhaka stressed the need to conform to the 1975 border guidelines and avoid any action that may impact adversely on the peace and stability in the border areas. ``Both sides agreed to facilitate repair and development works along the India-Bangladesh border.’’

India and Bangladesh agreed to strengthen measures to combat trafficking in women and children.

``The two sides agreed to continue discussions to expedite completion of the demarcation of the land boundary. It was decided to resume meetings of the Joint Boundary Working Groups (JBWG) to consider boundary-related issues in August 2005.

``Both sides agreed to address the issues related to exchange of enclaves and territories in adverse possessions as early as possible with the view to mitigating the sufferings of the people. The Indian side stressed the need for the early conduct of the joint census in the enclaves and adverse possessions.’’

Economic cooperation

While both sides expressed satisfaction at expanding economic and commercial cooperation, India conveyed its sincerity to address Bangladesh’s concerns on the trade deficit, including through measures such as the removal of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.

Interestingly, the Bangladesh side also requested India to facilitate a Dhaka-Kathmandu bus service. Road and rail connectivity between the two countries also came up for discussion.

See online : The Hindu

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