Dhaka wants to demarcate maritime boundaries in Bay of Bengal

January 16th, 2009 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 16 (IANS) The new Bangladesh government wants to engage neighbours India and Myanmar to demarcate maritime boundaries in the Bay of Bengal to be able to file its claim before the United Nations by 2011, a media report said Friday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who convened a meeting of energy ministry officials Thursday, said she would coordinate with the foreign office in contacting Delhi and Yangon, but did not indicate when.

She would also confer with the Bangladesh Navy and Geological Survey of Bangladesh.

Hasina’s deputy press secretary Sarwar Alam said that she raised the maritime boundary issue at her first meeting with the officials and wanted to know the latest situation and what surveys the ministry had conducted to demarcate the boundary.

Energy secretary Mohammad Mohsin told the prime minister that India and Myanmar were claiming maritime areas beyond their jurisdiction and often intruded into Bangladesh’s territorial waters and that the foreign ministry was handling the issue, New Age newspaper said Friday quoting sources present at the meeting.

Mohsin also informed her that Bangladesh would have to lodge its claim over the maritime boundary with the United Nations by 2011 after completing necessary surveys for strengthening the claims.

Maritime boundaries’ delineation became crucial after the finding of hydrocarbon reserves in the bay by India in recent years. Dhaka thinks it has missed the bus with poor response from international oil and gas companies.

Bangladesh is sandwiched between India and Myanmar in the upper reaches of the bay and says survey ships and even naval ships of the two countries cross into what it considers to be its own territory.

There had been stand-offs with the two neighbours in the bay in recent months and the erstwhile caretaker government had deployed naval ships and applied diplomatic pressures to get the neighbours’ vessels out, pending resolution of the dispute.

Dhaka did not hold talks with India on the issue after 1982 and resumed it only last year. The parleys with both Delhi and Yangon have remained preliminary with each side insisting on its own standpoint.

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