Dhaka ready to sign transit pact with India

February 4th, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 4 (IANS) Five days ahead of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit here, Bangladesh has said it is ready to provide transit facility to its neighbour’s northeastern region.”I see no reason why we should not give transit (to India),” Commerce Minister, Col. (retd.) Faruk Khan said Tuesday.

He blamed the “mentality of the politicians for hindering international cooperation in trade and economic development”, New Age newspaper said Wednesday.

Disclosing Dhaka’s latest position on the two proposed deals with Washington for trade and New Delhi for transit, Khan told a business gathering that the government would not sign any agreements contrary to the national interest.

On whether Dhaka would link the issue of giving transit facilities to India with transit to Nepal and Bhutan through the Indian territory for the use of Bangladeshi ports, Khan said: “All issues can be resolved if political will is there.”

He said last Sunday that commerce was “a weapon in politics”.

Ostensibly to soften opposition criticism, Dhaka is preparing to sign a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) simultaneously with the United States.

There have been reservations on both scores and the issue may get a political nod from the month-old government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after an assurance that any pact with foreign countries would essentially serve Bangladesh’s national interests.

As its northeastern region was bottled up after the partition in 1947, India has for long sought access through Bangladesh.

An agreement signed in 1974 after Bangladesh’s independence provided it.

Khan pointed out that transit had been covered by an earlier bilateral agreement although it was yet to be made operational.

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