Dhaka-Delhi talks on maritime boundary in March: Official

February 18th, 2009 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 18 (IANS) Bangladesh wants to get down to the nitty gritty of demarcating its maritime boundary, first with India in mid-March and shortly thereafter with Myanmar, an official said.
The technical discussions have been scheduled to be held in New Delhi, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain said Tuesday.

Delineating maritime boundaries in the upper reaches of the Bay of Bengal has become crucial for all three neighbours eager to explore the waters for oil and gas.

India has already struck oil and gas in the lower reaches of the Bay, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

Dhaka had been engaged in a stand-off with India and Myanmar, who had sent in their survey ships that were backed by naval vessels.

They were resolved through talks.

The India-Bangladesh maritime talks held in September 2008 were held after a gap of 28 years. They were preliminary in nature and ended inconclusively after each side stated its standpoint and stuck to it.

The two sides failed to make any headway in minimising differences over two major issues - sovereignty over the South Talpatti island and claim to the exclusive economic zones in the Bay of Bengal.

Dhaka’s talks with Myanmar too have remained a non-starter.

During his visit here earlier this month, US Assistant Secretary for South Asia Richard Boucher offered to “assist” Bangladesh in patrolling the Bay of Bengal. He clarified that the US was not looking for a naval presence in the Bay.

New Age newspaper in an editorial has said that the three South Asian neighbours should settle the issue among themselves without “outside military help”.

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