India discusses terror with Dhaka, asks Pakistan to be sincere (Second Lead)

February 9th, 2009 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 9 (IANS) India and Bangladesh Monday boosted their multi-faceted ties by signing two economic pacts and joined hands to combat the “growing menace of terrorism” in the region.

Without naming Pakistan, New Delhi also sought to expose the “unwillingness” or lack of “sincerity” on the part of some countries in the region in combating terrorism, and discussed with Dhaka the setting up of a regional taskforce to fight terror.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a day-long visit to Dhaka, held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Dipu Moni on an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including security, terrorism, intensification of economic ties, border management and improving connectivity.

The two sides after the talks signed two accords on bilateral trade and bilateral investment protection.

Under the agreement on mutual investment promotion and protection both countries will give each other the most-favoured nation status, while the trade agreement is a renewal of an old deal, originally signed in 1980, that allowed the two sides to use their water, rail and road routes for transportation of goods.

“An area of concern for both countries is to combat the growing menace of extremism and terrorism in the region. Closer cooperation on security issues is the need of the hour,” Mukherjee said at a joint press conference with his Bangladeshi counterpart.

“We should move to address such issues with the understanding that both our countries will benefit in the long run,” he stressed.

Moni assured India that Bangladeshi territory would not be used for terrorism against any country.

Underlining India’s hope for better security cooperation with Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Mukherjee discussed cooperation in counter-terrorism with Home Minister Sahara Khatun.

Mukherjee’s visit to Dhaka comes at a time when an internal Pakistani probe has reportedly found links between a militant group in Bangladesh and the Mumbai terror strikes in India.

With Pakistan’s denial of involvement in the Mumbai carnage, Mukherjee stressed on increased regional cooperation in fighting terrorism. “Architecture or framework does not stand in the way of fighting against terrorism, whatever it is - bilateral, regional or multilateral,” Mukherjee said.

“But if there is inability, incapability or unwillingness to tackle the problem and fight against terrorism as a global issue, then the problem comes,” he added.

“There is no conflict between the regional architecture and within the regional architecture, the bilateral architecture. What is more important is the sincerity to fight against the menace of terrorism,” he said.

“These would further strengthen the framework for trade and investment between both countries,” Mukherjee said at a joint press conference with Moni.

Moni said modalities for the South Asian Regional Task Force against terrorism would be fixed after discussing with other regional countries.

She also assured India that the Bangladeshi territory would not be used for terrorism against any country.

This is the first high-level visit from India to Bangladesh since Sheikh Hasina, known for her pro-India views, assumed office early this year after winning a landslide victory in the December 2008 parliamentary polls.

“As a close and friendly neighbour, India warmly welcomes the return to multiparty democratic politics in Bangladesh and looks forward to closely working with the newly elected government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to further strengthen the ties between both countries,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee also unveiled the model of the 2,800 core shelters, which India would be constructing soon in 11 villages affected by cyclone ‘Sidr’ in November 2007.

India has already provided Bangladesh aid including cash assistance of $10 million, supply of essential items including rice and milk powder worth $40 million. In the aftermath of the 2007 cyclone, India sent an emergency relief package of essential commodities and waived a ban on export to send 500,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh.

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