`New Delhi to resume transit talks with Dhaka after polls’

May 7th, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, May 7 (IANS) India has proposed “constructive talks” on the contentious issue of transit facility through Bangladesh to reach its north-eastern region once a new government takes office in New Delhi after the general elections.
India is particularly keen on railway connectivity between Akhaura in eastern Bangladesh and Agartala, capital of Tripura in India’s north-east, New Age newspaper said.

A meeting was held here Wednesday between Indian Higher Commissioner to Bangladesh, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty and Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan.

The two discussed a wide range of bilateral issues for setting the agenda for negotiation between the two countries after the Indian elections.

They had discussed various issues at some length when Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited here in February.

Dhaka has reservations on the transit facility on grounds of security and also wants a quid pro quo with India on being allowed access to Nepal and Bhutan.

“Everybody now acknowledges that connectivity (or transit) is necessary. If Bangladesh offers its roads and Chittagong port for regional use, money will not be a problem for building required infrastructures,” the high commissioner told the media.

He emphasised the importance of ‘political will’ in implementing the longstanding proposal for providing transit through Bangladesh territory that, as he argued, would fetch huge financial gains for Dhaka.

Referring to study reports, he said Bangladesh could earn between $1.5 billion and $2 billion by providing Chittagong port for regional use.

Asked if the present government had the ‘positive mood’ to take political risks for allowing transit, Chakravarty said mood was “always positive… what is important is implementation of the matter (for mutual benefit).”

The discussion featured matters of trade and investment, particularly beginning of border trade on a pilot basis, opening of new trade routes and non-tariff barriers to trade, the Indian official said.

“I have no problem in having trade deficit with India. What matters is the arrangement for increasing trade beneficial to both the sides,” the commerce minister was quoted as telling the meeting.

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