Dhaka, Delhi sign trade, transit pacts, move closer on terrorism (Roundup)

February 10th, 2009 - 12:16 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 9 (IANS) Bangladesh and India Monday rejuvenated their political and economic ties, renewing a trade pact that envisages transit facility to India, and moved closer on their resolve to combat terrorism.

A 12-hour hectic visit here of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee saw confluence of views on bilateral and regional issues between the South Asian neighbours, made possible by the emergence in Bangladesh of a new political dispensation last month under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In conceding road and rail transit to Indian goods that allows Delhi to connect with its isolated northeastern region, Dhaka displayed political conviction and overrode opposition brewing at home.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has threatened agitation to oppose the deals that it considers “anti-national”.

A “basic agreement” on transit that is within the trade pact - similar to the one signed in 2006 by the BNP-led government - will be followed by a protocol to work out details.

Dhaka has been anxious to bridge its trade gap that is estimated at $1.2 billion.

Mukherjee, who signed the trade pact and a deal to promote and protect investments in both countries to boost trade, said the huge gap tilting heavily in India’s favour could not be offset.

“Being a former foreign trade minister, I can most respectfully tell you there is no mechanism through which bilateral trade between two countries in respect of each and every country could be balanced. It is not possible,” he said winding up his visit.

“But surely it is possible to reduce the gap and to keep it within the manageable limit,” he said, adding that India had taken some measures to reduce the yawning gap.

The talks reinforced a high measure of political understanding on prickly issues, both bilateral and regional.

“We categorically assured Mr Pranab Mukherjee that Bangladesh will not countenance any anti-Indian activities by elements inimical to the interests of India using Bangladesh territory,” Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said.

“Similarly, we have also sought India’s cooperation against elements who are trying to harm Bangladesh,” she said.

The high point of the visit was Mukherjee’s 75-minute talks with Hasina with whom he enjoys a close rapport.

Hasina elaborated on her proposal for a regional task force to combat terrorism, emphasising that the principal enemy was poverty, which could not be fought as long as terrorism and militancy thrived.

Hasina said Bangladesh attached great importance to its relations with India and wanted to maintain good relations with all her neighbours.

Reinforcing ties that have bound the two neighbours, Hasina expressed gratitude for India’s cooperation during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, saying: “Bangladesh will not forget the sacrifice of several thousand Indian soldiers during the war against Pakistan.”

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |